DG continues the Grammy-winning Shostakovich cycle with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and its Music Director, Andris Nelsons. Following the “scandalously successful” (Sunday Times) Symphony No. 10 and “the sheer expressive beauty” (Gramophone Magazine) of the Symphonies Nos. 5, 8, 9, Nelsons and the BSO perform the extrovert Fourth and dramatic Eleventh - recorded live for the third album in DG’s long-term collaboration with the BSO, “America's most cultured orchestra” (BBC Music Magazine). -----
Unlike his Bruckner, Andris Nelsons seems to have real feeling for Shostakovich, and in the Boston Symphony he has far and away the bestRead more orchestra for the job. They play the living daylights out of the Fourth Symphony, taking Nelsons’ quick tempos in stride, and offering seat-of-your-pants excitement in the first movement’s insane central fugue. Will they make it, or won’t they? You bet they do. It’s one of the tightest and most cogent versions available of this sprawling behemoth of a work. The scherzo is aptly twilit but nicely flowing, and the ballet episodes in the finale are well characterized. It all culminates in a crushing account of the final chorale, and a perfectly paced, truly creepy coda.
The Eleventh Symphony is a tougher nut to crack, especially its repetitious first movement–you never do know quite when it’s going to end or where you are in it, and you get the sense that Nelsons hasn’t quite got it figured out, but it’s smooth sailing afterwards. There’s an aptly devastating “execution” scene in the second movement, while the elegiac third is deeply moving–I might almost say profound in this interpretation. Nelsons launches the finale with drive, and in the coda, with its clangor of bells especially well caught, creates a real sense of panic. The engineering isn’t perfect–the bass (timpani especially) can sound overly prominent, but the tension of a live event comes through vividly. If you’re collecting this excellent series, keep at it.
– ClassicsToday (David Hurwitz)
Nelsons rejoices in the skewed logic and dotty tangents but does so with a gripping hold on the symphonic argument – tentative though that sometimes is. The impetus and tautness of his account intensify cohesion. And it is fabulously engineered.
Five for four, four for elevenDecember 16, 2018By Keith Anderson (Kingston, TAS)See All My Reviews"I have the fourth by Haitink, Ashkenazy and Jarvi, and the eleventh by Haitink and Ashkenazy. It is easy to award five stars for the Nelsons performance of the fourth. Everything is just right, and even the notorious train smash at about 6 min 40 sec in the first movement is played musically. All others, even Haitink, produce the sound of a hardware store in a concrete mixer after someone has pressed the MIX button. For the fourth, Nelsons uses slightly fast tempos, but not too fast, and achieves great excitement. The enigmatic conclusion is superb. It is less easy to review the eleventh. The sound quality is excellent, of demonstration quality, but Nelsons seems to be too intellectual. The slow tempos are too slow, verging on being soporific instead of spooky, and the fast tempos are too fast, as though Nelsons has a train to catch. Despite the excellent engineering and huge dynamic range, the conclusion manages to be bland."Report Abuse
I'm not quite as enthusiastic as the criticsOctober 23, 2018By Robert C. (Tucson, AZ)See All My Reviews"I find the Nelsons/Boston performances strong and listenable. I purchased them in response to the enthusiasm of the critics. I don't share that enthusiasm and I've passed these versions along to friends who did not have recordings of them. I prefer Bychokov's 1987 recording of the 11th; Gergiev in Nos. 4 - 8 is my choice in this repertoire"Report Abuse