Evgeny Svetlanov's large-scaled Shostakovich Seventh is similar to Haitink's in terms of tempo and breadth. However, when it comes to mood and emphasis he's closer to Bernstein's epic Chicago Symphony performance on DG. All three conductors adopt a slow pace for the first movement's central march, but Svetlanov's is the slowest, sounding almost leaden. He's none too quick in the outer sections as well, whereas Bernstein goes at a jaunty pace (which seems paradoxical, as Bernstein takes two minutes longer over the entire movement). This is the only flaw in an otherwise excellent performance--and flaw may be too strong a term, for Svetlanov builds crushing power in the movement's sustained climax. The inner movements are more energeticallyRead more paced, with a light-stepping scherzo and a smoothly flowing adagio featuring an intensely animated central section.
In the finale, Svetlanov's tense, sure grip maintains the feeling of drama without letting the music sound hackneyed. A big factor in this performance is the Swedish Radio Symphony's highly engaging playing. There's no relaxed run-through posturing here; these musicians are fully committed to every bar. The strings, high and low, sound sumptuous throughout. But special honor goes to the brass, who in the finale's coda rival their Chicago counterparts in tonal heft and sheer amplitude (like the Bernstein, this is one really loud recording). Daphne's engineers have captured this live performance with scant audience noise, but also with the presence and dynamic range of a studio production. All of the above, plus the fact that Svetlanov's performance fits on one disc, makes this a strong contender in an impressive field of Shostakovich Sevenths.
--Victor Carr Jr, ClassicsToday.com
The opening of Svetlanov’s performance is declamatory but not bombastic, as though it serves to announce but not to further characterize the movement, yet. There is animation and even a sense of grandeur. The quieter, more contemplative music soon asserts itself with sensitivity but without loss of momentum. The sound perspective is naturally balanced between clarity and sonic impact, especially for a live recording (the conductor’s vocalizations are also sometimes audible). The string pizzicatos that introduce the first variation of the march are just barely audible over the relentless snare drum; the flute that follows is dreamy and irresistible.
These herald something quite special, as the first few variations weave their captivating spell. The dynamic level is kept surprisingly low, as even the snare drum seems to have slipped into the background; yet, this reticence eventually gives way to a growing but quite mechanical confidence and, inevitably, to the terror of the final, full-blown orchestral nightmare. As luck would have it, I auditioned this release soon after the Jordania performance on Angelok, and the contrast between them is quite marked (to the detriment of the latter). Svetlanov’s timing for the movement is on par with Haitink’s, and both conductors have fully characterized this central episode.
After the onslaught, the slow reconstruction of the earlier mood, led by a soulful bassoon, is effectively rendered, with especially effective and edgy piano punctuations. The warmth of the final string theme shares the remaining minutes with the ghost of the march, and the tension between the two provides the perfect coda.
The pivotal role played by the English horn/oboe theme in the Moderato is a highlight of this performance, abetted by especially ingratiating solos. The humor is also very much a factor, as the dance lurches from the delicate string pizzicatos to the more raucous brass-inflected passages. The flute/bass clarinet passage is both peculiarly effective and poignant, leading, as it does, back to the mood of the beginning.
The violins of the Swedish orchestra combine passion with precision in the opening of the Adagio. Svetlanov allows the music to flow without sacrificing any of the effectiveness of the beautiful wind music; the undercurrent of unrest in the low strings adds gravity without unbalancing the delicacy of the violins. The urgency of the central episode is achieved without undue haste. The return of the passionate string melody serves to give the movement some symmetry and to provide a bridge to the uneasiness of the opening of the finale.
The tricky rhythms after the beginning of the finale cause this ensemble and their conductor no trouble, as the tension mounts, punctuated by satisfyingly deep bass drum strokes. The more reflective music at the heart of the movement is no less effectively managed than its more propulsive tendencies—in fact, it is here that the personality of this performance is better recognized, since it is in this music that the heart of the symphony is most manifest: only after greater struggle is the goal achieved. There is almost a sense of exhaustion as C Major finally arrives. (Michael Steinberg: “It is victory, unmistakably, but it is not an easy victory.”) But the triumph is well earned, and this orchestra certainly shows no sign of flagging in the final minutes.
This is a very impressive performance and recording, similar in many ways to Haitink’s, but with more than enough of its own distinctive personality. It is a welcome addition to the Shostakovich discography, and I heartily recommend it.
Symphony no 7 in C major, Op. 60 "Leningrad"by Dmitri Shostakovich Conductor:
Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century Written: 1941; USSR Venue: Live Berwald Hall, Stockholm, Sweden Length: 77 Minutes 10 Secs. Notes: Berwald Hall, Stockholm, Sweden (09/10/1993 - 09/11/1993)
Average Customer Review: ( 1 Customer Review )
My best recording of this Symphony No.7March 2, 2012By Jan Venter (Johannesburg, gauteng)See All My Reviews"I have found that the best interpretation has always been the USSR State Symphony Orchestras performance of this great symphony performances now days seem so clinical that so much of the brutality of the work is lost.It was released on Melodia and the excitement generated by Svetlanov in this performance is just staggering!!!Where is it? Why has it vanished from the catalogue?The driving force of the march with the side drum so intense and heated,it is hairaising and I wish Arkiv could get that performance on CD what has happened to Melodia?.I have always been a fan of Svetlanovs and find the intense pressure of the string section with the powerfull cello's digging in with awesome passion and the terror of what is happening in Russia... Why is it not available on compact disc?"Report Abuse