*** This title is a reissue of a Japanese release with liner notes in Japanese. ***
Eugene Ormandy's gutsy, raw, and edgy opening to Shostakovich's Fifth Symphony comes as a bit of a shock after hearing the recent, rather anemic version by Christoph Eschenbach, also with the Philadelphia Orchestra. Ormandy's 1975 version grips from the outset, with the Philadelphia strings digging deep, but soon after singing sweetly in the lyrical second subject (as well as in the elegiac Largo third movement). Philadelphia fans will recognize the distinctive timbres of the first-chair wind soloists, and certainly the rich-toned brass.
Ormandy's reading isn't overtly emotional, in the manner of Bernstein, but insteadRead more generates excitement through exact accentuation as well as vibrant instrumental color and striking ensemble balances. You'd expect to hear the piano clearly at the start of the first-movement development section, but it makes a similarly attention-getting effect in the build-up to the finale's coda--a powerful and memorable performance.
Even more impressive is the Scriabin. At just under 18 minutes this a far swifter rendition than what we've heard in recent years from Boulez and Gergiev (both nearly 23 minutes). Where Boulez luxuriates in the work's vivid coloring and alluring sensuality, Ormandy's energized and focused conducting reminds us that the work's title is "Poem of Fire", as does Vladimir Sokoloff's impassioned piano work. Of course, there's plenty of color in Ormandy's reading as well, as the Philadelphia Orchestra can't help but make voluptuous sounds in this music.
The recordings (remastered by RCA Japan) are among the more clear-sounding productions that RCA made with this orchestra--the Shostakovich closely miked, with the Scriabin given an appropriately more spacious acoustic. A highly desirable release, available on-demand from Arkivmusic.com.
Symphony no 5 in D minor, Op. 47by Dmitri Shostakovich Conductor:
Period: 20th Century Written: 1937; USSR Date of Recording: 2/5/1975
Prometheus, Op. 60 "Poem of Fire"by Alexander Scriabin Performer:
Vladimir Sokoloff (Piano)
Mendelssohn Club Chorus Philadelphia
Period: 20th Century Written: 1908-1910; Russia Date of Recording: 4/21/1971
Featured Sound Samples
Symphony no 5 (Shostakovich): I. Moderato
Symphony no 5 (Shostakovich): IV. Allegro non troppo
Average Customer Review: ( 1 Customer Review )
Exhilarating Yet Finely CalibratedJuly 11, 2012By Adriel B. (Olney, MD)See All My Reviews"Ormandy and the Philadelphians had a long association with Shostakovich, presenting several important American premieres of the composer's works. Listeners who primarily remember Ormandy as a great accompanist (or who recall the quality of his work slipping later in his career) will be impressed by his powerful, well-considered take on this symphonic classic and also on the Scriabin. The balances are wonderfully calibrated, and the detail work -- especially the woodwind solos -- make this a strong recommendation. Perhaps not as searing as Mravinsky, but a good addition to the library."Report Abuse