It is not surprising to find Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic in such good shape in these Shostakovich symphony recordings. Rarely has this music so clearly shown its debt to Mahler as in these performances by committed Mahlerians. Under Bernstein's amazingly lively baton, the 5th Symphony reaches a perfect balance between irony and painful introspection. The Allegretto abounds in wit and humor, while the following Largo conveys a deep feeling of sorrow and desolation through the intense playing of the strings and the lunar pallor of the woodwind solos. In the finale, Bernstein allows just the right amount of loudness and vulgarity from his musicians (what a demonic brass section!), inRead more order to translate the fake optimism of the music. Though infinitely lighter than the 5th, the buoyant 9th--Shostakovich's own "Classical Symphony"--receives the same passionate treatment, in turns pungent, meditative, or brisk when needed. Woodwinds offer a special feast here, thanks to their numerous musical dialogs, and Bernstein knows like (almost) no other conductor how to build up a climax--even when the music is as fat-free as this. In brief, these exciting, ageless performances have everything one could wish from a Russian orchestra and conductor--only better played. The sound recording (1959 and 1965) is a pure delight, with true depth, clear spatial definition, and good old stereo separation opposing violins and basses in the most expressive way.
--Luca Sabbatini, ClassicsToday.com Read less
Works on This Recording
Symphony no 5 in D minor, Op. 47by Dmitri Shostakovich Conductor:
New York Philharmonic
Period: 20th Century Written: 1937; USSR Date of Recording: 10/20/1959 Venue: Symphony Hall, Boston, Massachusetts Length: 45 Minutes 35 Secs.
Symphony no 9 in E flat major, Op. 70by Dmitri Shostakovich Performer:
Manuel Zegler (Bassoon)
New York Philharmonic
Period: 20th Century Written: 1945; USSR Date of Recording: 10/19/1965 Venue: Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Center, NYC Length: 25 Minutes 16 Secs.
Average Customer Review: ( 2 Customer Reviews )
SMOKIN'! SIZZLIN'! COOKIN'!December 17, 2014By Zita Carno (Tampa, FL)See All My Reviews"Someone once observed that Shostakovich was afflicted with a condition called Mahleria, especially in the scherzo movements. Not so in these two symphonies. I just heard the 5th, with the New York Philharmonic conducted by Bernstein, and the piece just smoked and sizzled and cooked up a storm. In my orchestra playing days we have played it all manner of ways---including adagio con schleppo where such a tempo was not wanted---but not here. It was brilliant, exciting, mournful, jocose (especially in the second movement where it was obvious the composer was sticking out his tongue at Mahler), and for one I really enjoyed it---and at the end, where some baton wielders might slow it down to an excruciatingly painful crawl Mr. Bernstein fed it the gas and then some. And the 9th Symphony was a gas, a joke, a prank, a three-ring circus, everything that the old Soviet monster did not want! A perfect and thoroughly enjoyable pair of great performances."Report Abuse
My favorite 5thJuly 11, 2013By Mary Lynn H. (San Antonio, TX)See All My Reviews"I've listened to this recording of the fifth symphony for about fifty years. It is truly a GREAT performance. The ninth is a delight. Also, I experimented and got this release to compare to the one that I had under the "Royal Edition" and because of the remastering this CD blew the earlier one away. Remastering these older performances with today's better digital capabilities really made the music sing. It's still not an LP but it's so much closer."Report Abuse