Shostakovich suffered terribly under the Stalinist regime, as did so many artists, and people of all kinds and positions. He had the ability to show two sides of himself through his music. One was always on the surface, and the other hidden underneath. In this, his String Quartet #8 (arr. as his Chamber Symphony), he reveals his true self, even though much of the meaning is still hidden if you don’t know what to look for. It is profound to feel very close to a composer, and to understand, just in a tiny way, another life, another culture, another person’s intimate emotions – and through music we can do this in a very special way. He spelled the first four letters of his name in this work, and used it as a motto. He also quoted from other works of his own and others, and all have meaning. If you want to know more about the experience, from the inside, of what it was like to live and create during the time of Shostakovich, through the eyes and experiences of his colleagues and friends, read this book by Elizabeth Wilson, “Shostakovich Remembered”.