1 Moderato – Allegro Non Troppo
The symphony, which the composer described as “a lengthy spiritual battle, crowned by victory”, opens with a menacing theme in the strings. The dotted rhythm hints at the bitter, stoic march toward the enemy. A lyrical melody filled with anguish is later introduced by the violin. The repeated attacks on the high A by the violin
The second movement is brief and playful; a self-parody underscored with grotesque humour brought out by loud, pompous brasses, frisky winds, and teasing solo violin in the Trio section.
The third movement is haunting, moving and poignant altogether. It begins with strings, followed by a solo flute, and finally by the full orchestra without the brass section. The solo oboe’s wistful melody underscored by the quiet and eerie shimmering strings is later recalled by the harps before the movement ends in a quiet morendo.
4 Allegro Non Troppo
The finale unleashes an explosive and blazing sound-world, announced by hammering timpani and fiery brass fanfare. In a quiet interlude that precedes the coda, Shostakovich quoted the characteristic accompaniment and the opening motif of the vocal line of ‘Rebirth’ from his 1936’s cycle of Pushkin Romances in the finale. Many point to this reference as a veiled statement of creative survival and rebirth, a concept complemented by the evolution from D minor to D major in the finale, albeit the remaining unresolved tensions as noted by some critics.