Music: Shostakovich's Enigma

"This is one of Shostakovich's most profound works. It is filled with optimism, affirmation of life, and trust in man's inexhaustible strength." So said Tikhon Khrennikov, head of the Soviet Composers Union, last January after the Moscow premiere of Dmitry Shostakovich's Symphony No. 15.

The new work by the 66-year-old Soviet composer was played in Manhattan last week by Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra. It is in deed affirmative, at least by contrast with Shostakovich's bleak 14th Sym phony (1969), a meditation on death.

But the 15th is also grandiose and tire some, a big, empty balloon of a symphony. Shostakovich...

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