Popov was a classmate of Shostakovich at the Leningrad Conservatory and, like the more famous composer, a victim of Stalinist purges, at one point being kicked out of the conservatory. The Soviet government censored his First Symphony after its debut in 1935, and the work was quickly forgotten; it got its American premiere last year in a performance by the American Symphony Orchestra, also led by Botstein.
"This symphony's importance is not merely as a historical document," Botstein writes in his liner notes. "It is a work that contains all the brilliance and intensity of a profoundly talented composer, and, as audiences in New York discovered, makes one wonder why such a work has not been more often heard on the concert stage."
The new CD, which also includes Shostakovich's 1922 Theme and Variations, is Botstein's third with the LSO. He has also led the orchestra in an all-Lizst disc and a recording of Reinhold Glire's Symphony No. 3.
Botstein, the president of Bard College and the music director of the American Symphony and the Jerusalem Symphony, is a specialist in symphonic rarities. Last month, he led the ASO in the American premiere of Bruno Walter's First Symphony; the orchestra's Lincoln Center series continues on January 16, 2005, with a program of Russian works from the revolutionary year of 1905.