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Shostakovich: The Great Symphonies

Shostakovich / Ivanov / Barshai / Mravinsky
Release Date: 02/04/2014 
Label:  Musical Concepts   Catalog #: 6004   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Dmitri Shostakovich
Performer:  David Oistrakh
Conductor:  Rudolf BarshaiMaxim ShostakovichKonstantin IvanovYevgeny Mravinsky,   ... 
Orchestra/Ensemble:  West German Radio OrchestraLondon Symphony OrchestraUSSR State Symphony Orchestra,   ... 
Number of Discs: 6 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

[Barshai] has an orchestra in the WDR Symphony that plays as well as the CBSO and has the Russian temperament to bring out all of the extremes in the piece. For example, the fugato passage in the first movement is every bit as exciting as Järvi’s as are the timpani during the climax in the last movement. Here Rattle’s timpani are just a blur under the brass and do not make the necessary impact. The wind soloists in all three recordings play with real character, but I especially like Järvi’s “mournful” bassoonist at the beginning of the finale. It is not a beautiful tone, as Barshai’s and Rattle’s are, but with minimal vibrato it really captures the funereal mood well. Overall, though, I would give the palm to Barshai who seems to Read more have the best of both worlds: world-class playing and rich deep sound along with all the power one expects from this work.
-- Leslie Wright, MusicWeb International
reviewing the Fourth Symphony


Mravinsky's live recording of the Eighth is of capital importance, since it was he who gave the work its premiere...It is a performance of extraordinary vehemence and power, vivid contrast and bitter intensity. The curdled woodwind dissonances and huge climaxes of the first movement are given a shocking force not simply by sheer volume but by playing at the very limit of their powers: it is not often these days that we hear a clarinet or an oboe played so loudly. The fact this is a concert performance increases one's respect for the risks taken: to expect trombones to play staccato at the furious tempo Mravinsky chooses is really living dangerously, but they respond superbly, as do the belligerently precise trumpets...[It is] a performance which sees clearly that the real burden of emotion here lies in the strings. For a recapturing of the appalling shock this work must have caused (the Russians were expecting a "Victory Symphony”), Mravinsky's account demands to be heard: the Leningrad audience is struck dumb by it.

-- Gramophone
reviewing the Eighth Symphony


Maxim Shostakovich eschews histrionic gesture; there is much quiet eloquence, grandeur of outline and an impressive gravity to his soberly measured account of the first movement (which, like most conductors, he takes well below the composer's own printed metronome marks). The scherzo is massively weighty, brutal but less pointedly vicious than usual. The centre of gravity of the finale and of this whole performance is clearly the intensely expressive paragraph which follows the towering statement of Shostakovich's D-S-CH monogram; Maxim's earlier restraint has saved a great emotional burden for this moment, and it is deeply moving.

-- Gramophone
reviewing Symphony no 10


The Second Violin Concerto has the sort of atmosphere and patent concentration you could cut with a knife. This three movement work is raw, stark, pessimistic without being dismal and violent especially in the finale adagio-allegro. Listen to the dialogue between the violin and the brass benches. The emotional temperature rises in corrosive waves and acidic attack. The final fff thud is the one point at which the technology momentarily throws in the towel and distorts. The balance throughout the concerto is pretty natural.

Not so with the Symphony No. 15 which is from 1974 and is unremittingly close-up. The music-making is flighty, witty, brusque and serious. The quotations from Rossini and Wagner work startlingly well. The hoarse-coarse woodwind in the Allegretto is delightfully roughened and resinous. Not everything is a vitriolic for example the almost sentimental melody that caresses the ear at 12:45 in the finale. The mesmerising percussion pitter-patter of the last few moments, its chronometer references and the kettle drum motif create busy and pregnant tension. These performances have the feel of verisimilitude, of fidelity to the composer's wishes.

The recordings were made while the composer was alive so he may have been present for the sessions. The generously detailed notes are by Jeffrey Davis who is always good with Soviet material.

-- Rob Barnett, MusicWeb International
reviewing Symphony no 15 and Violin Concerto no 2 Read less

Works on This Recording

1. Symphony no 4 in C minor, Op. 43 by Dmitri Shostakovich
Conductor:  Rudolf Barshai
Orchestra/Ensemble:  West German Radio Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1935-1936; USSR 
2. Gadfly Suite, Op. 97a: Overture by Dmitri Shostakovich
Conductor:  Maxim Shostakovich
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1955; USSR 
3. Gadfly Suite, Op. 97a: Folk Festival by Dmitri Shostakovich
Conductor:  Maxim Shostakovich
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1955; USSR 
4. Gadfly Suite, Op. 97a: Barrel-Organ Waltz by Dmitri Shostakovich
Conductor:  Maxim Shostakovich
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1955; USSR 
5. Gadfly Suite, Op. 97a: Galop by Dmitri Shostakovich
Conductor:  Maxim Shostakovich
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1955; USSR 
6. Gadfly Suite, Op. 97a: Romance by Dmitri Shostakovich
Conductor:  Maxim Shostakovich
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1955; USSR 
7. Gadfly Suite, Op. 97a: Finale by Dmitri Shostakovich
Conductor:  Maxim Shostakovich
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1955; USSR 
8. Symphony no 5 in D minor, Op. 47 by Dmitri Shostakovich
Conductor:  Maxim Shostakovich
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1937; USSR 
9. Symphony no 7 in C major, Op. 60 "Leningrad" by Dmitri Shostakovich
Conductor:  Konstantin Ivanov
Orchestra/Ensemble:  USSR State Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1941; USSR 
10. Symphony no 8 in C minor, Op. 65 by Dmitri Shostakovich
Conductor:  Yevgeny Mravinsky
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1943; USSR 
Date of Recording: 1982 
Venue:  Leningrad Philharmonic, Live Recording 
11. Symphony no 10 in E minor, Op. 93 by Dmitri Shostakovich
Conductor:  Maxim Shostakovich
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1953; USSR 
12. Symphony no 15 in A major, Op. 141 by Dmitri Shostakovich
Conductor:  Kiril Kondrashin
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Moscow Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1971; USSR 
13. Concerto for Violin no 2 in C sharp minor, Op. 129 by Dmitri Shostakovich
Performer:  David Oistrakh (Violin)
Conductor:  Kiril Kondrashin
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Moscow Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1967; USSR 

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