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Shostakovich: Symphonies (Complete) / Shostakovich, Et Al


Release Date: 10/31/2006 
Label:  Supraphon   Catalog #: 3890   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Dmitri Shostakovich
Performer:  Mikhail RyssovPeter MikulasMarina Shaguch
Conductor:  Maxim Shostakovich
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Prague Symphony OrchestraPrague Philharmonic ChorusPrague Philharmonic Chorus Men,   ... 
Number of Discs: 10 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 11 Hours 53 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Stravinsky said that he thought it was important to record his own music so that future generations will know how it should be played, even if others might conduct it better from a technical point of view, or have better orchestras at their disposal. This thought comes to mind listening to this set, but it wasn't something to be taken for granted. Obviously, Maxim Shostakovich is not the composer, however close he may have been to him. Beyond that, although he recorded excellent versions of the Fifth and Fifteenth Symphonies for Melodiya (only the former generally available on CD), he also made some really boring, rhythmically flaccid, indifferently played versions of the Seventh and Eighth Symphonies for Collins Classics.

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Soon after that, however, Maxim began this series in Prague, much more promisingly. Some of these performances, at least Symphonies Nos. 4, 5, 6, and 13, were released previously, and they are all excellent (even with that extra bar in the coda of the Fifth, a curiosity that seems to pop up now and then). These are all live recordings, and the sense of occasion is palpable, even when there are moments of iffy ensemble (the end of the Eleventh, the big climax in the finale of the Eighth). In all honesty, the Prague Symphony is not in the league of the Czech Philharmonic--or the various orchestras that Jansons has in his complete set, or (obviously) Haitink's Concertgebouw. The horns in particular have a watery vibrato that will make some listeners cringe, even though they play very well when it comes to hitting the right notes.


Indeed, once you get past the big horn solos in, say, the third movement of the Tenth or the first-movement development of the Eighth, you will find that the ensemble has a sound you might well describe as "authentic" in any number of ways. Its unblended sonority permits maximum clarity, rhythms are unusually sharp, and the woodwinds are amazing. Listen to the squealing clarinets in the slow movement of the Seventh (an outstanding performance all around, with hugely impressive outer movements and a really swift, exciting scherzo), or to the gibbering insanity in the Tenth's "portrait of Stalin" second movement. It's also great to have Maxim Shostakovich's take on the Fifteenth, a work that he premiered and one that he plays with sovereign authority. Consider, for example, his ability to find the perfect tempo for the finale's coda, beautifully poised between eerie disquiet and cool tranquility.


The bottom line is that Shostakovich the conductor doesn't put a foot wrong anywhere. There's nothing controversial here, no extremes of fast or slow, no exaggerating the dark and miserable--but there's also no underplaying of the music's intensity. Shostakovich catches the flow of each piece, finding a balanced and unusually rich range of expression on both the happy and sad sides of the emotional ledger. The First and Ninth Symphonies, so often dour in the hands of conductors who refuse to believe that this composer could ever indulge in genuine humor, emerge with plenty of personality and with a real sense of fun. The much maligned Twelfth has tremendous formal cogency and the best-timed coda since Mravinsky (and, curiously, Haitink).


Finally, the various choirs and soloists all sing very well (Mikhail Russov is a bit wooly-toned in the Fourteenth, but authentically dark sounding). The Second Symphony, real sirens and all, comes off particularly impressively. If any performance can make sense of this avowed musical experiment, it's this one (the Third remains a formless potpourri no matter who conducts it). The live sonics are very faithful to the sound of the orchestra, and the audience, while present, is invariably well-behaved. I think it's important that Maxim Shostakovich's views on this music have been preserved at last, and if the result hasn't the technical perfection of the best of the competition, it has such honesty and genuine excitement that it really doesn't matter. This is a cycle to live with--a true reference for anyone wanting a baseline view of how each work ought to go, and what it expresses. [10/17/2006]
--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Symphony no 1 in F minor, Op. 10 by Dmitri Shostakovich
Conductor:  Maxim Shostakovich
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Prague Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1924-1925; USSR 
Venue:  Live  Prague 
Length: 32 Minutes 37 Secs. 
2.
Symphony no 12 in D minor, Op. 112 "To the Memory of Lenin - 1917" by Dmitri Shostakovich
Conductor:  Maxim Shostakovich
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Prague Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1961; USSR 
Venue:  Live  Prague 
Length: 41 Minutes 5 Secs. 
Language: Russian 
3.
Symphony no 2 in B flat major, Op. 14 "To October" by Dmitri Shostakovich
Performer:  Mikhail Ryssov (Bass), Peter Mikulas (Bass)
Conductor:  Maxim Shostakovich
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Prague Philharmonic Chorus,  Prague Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1927; USSR 
Venue:  Live  Prague 
Length: 18 Minutes 26 Secs. 
Language: Russian 
4.
Symphony no 10 in E minor, Op. 93 by Dmitri Shostakovich
Conductor:  Maxim Shostakovich
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Prague Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1953; USSR 
Venue:  Live  Prague 
Length: 53 Minutes 45 Secs. 
5.
Symphony no 3 in E flat major, Op. 20 "First of May" by Dmitri Shostakovich
Conductor:  Maxim Shostakovich
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Prague Philharmonic Chorus,  Prague Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1929; USSR 
Venue:  Live  Prague 
Length: 29 Minutes 21 Secs. 
Language: Russian 
6.
Symphony no 14 in G minor, Op. 135 by Dmitri Shostakovich
Performer:  Marina Shaguch (Soprano), Peter Mikulas (Bass), Mikhail Ryssov (Bass)
Conductor:  Maxim Shostakovich
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Prague Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1969; USSR 
Venue:  Live  Prague 
Length: 49 Minutes 11 Secs. 
Language: Russian 
7.
Symphony no 4 in C minor, Op. 43 by Dmitri Shostakovich
Conductor:  Maxim Shostakovich
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Prague Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1935-1936; USSR 
Date of Recording: 02/1998 
Venue:  Live  Smetana Hall, Municipal House, Prague 
Length: 64 Minutes 58 Secs. 
8.
Symphony no 5 in D minor, Op. 47 by Dmitri Shostakovich
Conductor:  Maxim Shostakovich
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Prague Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1937; USSR 
Date of Recording: 11/13/1996 
Venue:  Live  Rudolphinum, Prague 
Length: 51 Minutes 20 Secs. 
9.
Symphony no 9 in E flat major, Op. 70 by Dmitri Shostakovich
Conductor:  Maxim Shostakovich
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Prague Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1945; USSR 
Venue:  Live  Prague 
Length: 25 Minutes 27 Secs. 
10.
Symphony no 6 in B minor, Op. 54 by Dmitri Shostakovich
Conductor:  Maxim Shostakovich
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Prague Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1939; USSR 
Venue:  Live  Prague 
Length: 32 Minutes 16 Secs. 
11.
Symphony no 15 in A major, Op. 141 by Dmitri Shostakovich
Conductor:  Maxim Shostakovich
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Prague Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1971; USSR 
Venue:  Live  Prague 
Length: 43 Minutes 16 Secs. 
12.
Symphony no 7 in C major, Op. 60 "Leningrad" by Dmitri Shostakovich
Conductor:  Maxim Shostakovich
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Prague Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1941; USSR 
Venue:  Live  Prague 
Length: 77 Minutes 59 Secs. 
13.
Symphony no 8 in C minor, Op. 65 by Dmitri Shostakovich
Conductor:  Maxim Shostakovich
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Prague Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1943; USSR 
Venue:  Live  Prague 
Length: 66 Minutes 5 Secs. 
14.
Symphony no 11 in G minor, Op. 103 "Year 1905" by Dmitri Shostakovich
Conductor:  Maxim Shostakovich
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Prague Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1957; USSR 
Venue:  Live  Prague 
Length: 60 Minutes 12 Secs. 
15.
Symphony no 13 in B flat minor, Op. 113 "Babi Yar" by Dmitri Shostakovich
Performer:  Peter Mikulas (Bass), Mikhail Ryssov (Bass)
Conductor:  Maxim Shostakovich
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Prague Symphony Orchestra,  Prague Philharmonic Chorus Men,  Kühn Male Chorus
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1962; USSR 
Venue:  Live  Prague 
Length: 65 Minutes 18 Secs. 
Language: Russian 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 TWO OF THEM October 4, 2014 By Zita Carno (Tampa, FL) See All My Reviews "I will concern myself with two of these symphonies, and I will disregard the fact that Maxim was not the greatest conductor the way his father was. First, the 15th---I think of this as Dimitri's "Farewell" symphony, which we played with Zubin Mehta and the L.A. Philharmonic one time. It was indeed his farewell---to life on this earth, and the part I heard was the last segment of the finale. I caught some bits and pieces of Wagner's Tristan, for example, and it struck me as singularly appropriate. I heard the percussion at the end as it waxed and waned and faded out, and it was beautifully done. As for the 7th Symphony, which I have heard perhaps too often---I can never listen to it without thinking about, and laughing uproariously at, what Bela Bartok did to that infamous march theme that went on and on and on, in the course of the interrupted intermezzo in the Concerto for Orchestra! I don't care who plays it or how well---or how badly---that episode, complete with trombone alligator glissandos and high woodwind giggles of derision, gets me every time. Not to mention those Bronx cheers from the trumoets. So the rating is mainly for the 15th symphony, whih was well done." Report Abuse
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