Shostakovich composed his Fourth Symphony at a turning point in Soviet history – the start of Stalin’s ‘Great Terror’ in 1936. After the appearance of his opera Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District he too had lost favour with the regime and feared for his life. He nevertheless found the energy to write an extremely complex work in which he played on every shade of expression between the grotesque and the profoundly tragic. It was not performed until 1961. His Cello Concerto No. 1, dedicated to Mstislav Rostropovich, also dates from the time after Stalin’s death. This well-known concerto with its light orchestration is the perfect complement to the monumental Symphony No. 4. The soloist is the very young Alexey Stadler, who already has an impressive list of achievements to his name. Without a doubt, this extract from the Shostakovich Trilogy, conducted by Valery Gergiev, is in safe hands.