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Shostakovich: Symphony No 10; Glanert / Bychkov, Et Al

Release Date: 12/18/2007 
Label:  Avie   Catalog #: 2137   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Dmitri ShostakovichDetlev Glanert
Conductor:  Semyon Bychkov
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cologne West German Radio Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Multi 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This is a hybrid Super Audio CD playable on both regular and Super Audio CD players.


SHOSTAKOVICH Symphony No. 10. GLANERT A Theatrical Bestiary Semyon Bychkov, cond; West German RSO Cologne AVIE 2137 (Hybrid multichannel SACD: 75:05)

As of this writing, arkivmusic.com has over 1,600 SACD titles for Read more sale, of which about 60 hold music by Shostakovich: DSCH is bested only by Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, and Tchaikovsky. Though some chamber music is represented, most of the material is symphonic and it’s not hard to see why. These expansive, eventful, and dynamically demanding scores are well suited to the possibilities of high-resolution multichannel audio.

Semyon Bychkov has recorded four previous Shostakovich discs for Avie, two on CD (Symphonies Nos. 7 and 8) and two on SACD (Nos. 4 and 11.) Bychkov is an insightful and idiomatic Shostakovich conductor and his reading of the 10th is highly satisfying. The lengthy opening movement is effectively paced, conjuring up a grimly oppressive atmosphere. Bychkov provides a strong feel for structural cogency and delivers on the many moments of striking orchestral color in the 10th, especially at the very end of the movement when two piccolos circle uneasily over strings and timpani. The famous “Stalin scherzo” is a brilliant whirlwind, if not quite as nasty as others have made it; with the third movement, Bychkov is particularly attuned to the composer’s mastery of the organic development of thematic material. There’s a natural flow to the finale’s opening Andante section with a beautifully shaped oboe solo, the player letting just a touch of anxiety creep into his or her appealing tone. The closing is triumphant. Several other SACD versions of Symphony No. 10 are available, most notably the extraordinary reading by the Australian Youth Orchestra under Alexander Anissimov on Melba (Kitajenko on Capriccio and Catani on Arts Music are also not inconsequential).

But it’s the “filler” here that makes this Avie release especially desirable. Detlev Glanert, born in Hamburg in 1960, was a student of Hans Werner Henze. He’s written 13 operas as well as works in virtually every other instrumental and vocal medium. Why is Glanert paired with Shostakovich? According to Glanert, in an interview printed in the awkwardly translated liner notes, “there are similarities with certain stylistic structures.” And, “as composers, we have both to react to regimes (i.e., Shostakovich in the Stalinist period) that do not necessarily accept our ‘style’. . .”. This may be a bit self-serving, but there’s no denying that Glanert writes well-crafted and engaging symphonic music. His 22-and-a-half minute Theatrum bestiarum, subtitled “Songs and Dances for Large Orchestra,” is comprised of three movements that run continuously. The harmonic language is that of an advanced tonality, the mood frequently rambunctious and extroverted with a wide dynamic range. Glanert has an exceptional ear for color and atmosphere; you’re certainly not expecting the Gothic organ chords that begin part 2. There are dance-like passages and elements of parody—echoes of Le sacre pop up in part 3. The cynical tone associated with Shostakovich is frequently in evidence and a passage for string quartet at the very close of the piece sounds as though it could have been lifted from a lost chamber work by the Soviet composer. If you like orchestral music by composers as disparate as Christopher Rouse, HK Gruber, or Jennifer Higdon, you’ll probably enjoy Theatrum bestiarum. (The title is definitely not adequately explained in that liner note interview.)

Sonically, Avie’s recording offers naturally textured string sound and lovely woodwind timbres. In surround, there’s good front-to-back layering, but not much sense of the performance venue, the Köln Philharmonie. The recording is on the bright side, a characteristic ameliorated in the high-resolution DSD versions of the program, as compared to the CD layer.

The Shostakovich performance is very competitive; the Glanert work makes this release particularly recommendable.

FANFARE: Andrew Quint
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Works on This Recording

Symphony no 10 in E minor, Op. 93 by Dmitri Shostakovich
Conductor:  Semyon Bychkov
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cologne West German Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1953; USSR 
A Theatrical Bestiary by Detlev Glanert
Conductor:  Semyon Bychkov
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cologne West German Radio Symphony Orchestra

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