Thursday-Sunday: The highlight of this weekend's St. Paul Chamber Orchestra concerts is a rare performance of Shostakovich's dark and pessimistic Symphony No. 14, an epic work that explores the subject of death in its many facets. Written in 1969 and dedicated to Benjamin Britten, it sets 11 poems by Federico Garcia Lorca, Guillaume Apollinaire, Wilhelm Küchelbecker and Rainer Maria Rilke, translated into Russian, that examine human mortality with raw emotion. Bass Nikolay Didenko and soprano Dina Kuznetsova will interpret the texts. Balancing it out is Mozart's sublime Paris Symphony. (7:30 p.m. Thu., Temple Israel, 2324 Emerson Av. S., Mpls.; 8 p.m. Sat., United Church of Christ, 900 Summit Av., St. Paul; 2 p.m. Sun., Benson Great Hall, Bethel University, Arden Hills, $42-$12, 651-291-1144, thespco.org) WILLIAM RANDALL BEARD