Great performances of this massive symphony aren’t exactly thick on the field, but my goodness, this is one of them. Vasily Petrenko and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic play with 100 percent commitment in every single bar. The first movement opens broadly, the intensity already palpable. Taking full advantage of excellent sound and a wide dynamic range (crank up the volume for this one), the central march and battle will have you sweating in your seat. The unrelentingly sustained passion that Petrenko brings to this long section triumphantly vindicates Shostakovich’s controversial vision, and at the same time makes short work of a 28-minute overall timing.
Melodiya presents an album of chamber and symphonic music by Moisey (Mieczysław) Weinberg, a remarkable composer and one of the best representatives of the ‘Shostakovich school’.Regretfully, for the general public, he stayed in the shadow of his great teacher (although he formally wasn’t his pupil; this is rather a matter of spiritual affinity, a common stylistic and ethical orientation felt by both composers). Weinberg is mostly known as an author of music to such outstanding Soviet motion pictures as The Cranes Are Flying, Don Quixote and The Last Inch.
Dmitri Shostakovich's Symphony No. 7 in C major, Op. 60 (titled Leningrad), was written c. 1939–40. Initially dedicated to the life and deeds of Vladimir Lenin, Shostakovich decided instead to dedicate the symphony to the city of Leningrad on its completion in December 1941. The work remains one of Shostakovich's best-known compositions.
"This was a performance, played with the Concertgebouw's phenomenal spectrum of coloring, phrasing & dynamic subtlety that asserted the symphony's organic structural credentials & spoke of deep-seated, human feelings throughout its ample 80-minute span. It was wonderful to have past reservations about the symphony swept aside with such authority. " ~The Telegraph
Recorded in 2001 (Mahler) and 2004 (Shostakovich), this 2007 ECM release provides a wonderful insight into Gidon Kremer's perspective on two composers who are clearly close to his heart. The performances are both fascinating, and the Kremerata Baltica give their not-inconsiderable all in both works.
It may be that Mariss Jansons is incapable of releasing a new recording of music that he hasn't done before, but this disc at least has the distinction of being the orchestra's first recording of the "Leningrad" Symphony, and that may be enough for some listeners. Haitink's Decca recording, you may recall, was made with the LPO before the series switched its base of operations to Amsterdam. Certainly this has to be the most purely beautiful version of the piece on disc. The playing is richly upholstered, with stunning contributions from the solo flute and bassoon in the first and third movements. Even the most overwhelming climaxes ride on a rich carpet of string sonority. D. H.
Of Anton Bruckner’s 11 symphonies, the perennially popular 7th in E major is his most consistently melodious, evenly paced, & lyrically flowing, with comparatively few false starts, awkward pauses, or tedious fanfares. For this exceptional hybrid SACD from PentaTone, Yakov Kreizberg & the Vienna Symphony deliver 1 of the smoothest & roundest performances of the symphony heard in years. Yet it might actually be too polished for the liking of some old-guard Bruckner fans, who may argue that the orchestra is too mellow, luscious, & soft, & that Kreizberg’s inflections & phrases are too nuanced & sensual for the composer’s pure, almost sacred, intentions. But more important than the undeniably rich tonal quality found here is the interpretation, which draws on the style of Wagner’s most ardent music; some of the more ecstatic passages of Lohengrin & Tristan und Isolde may come to mind when one hears this disc.
Claudio Abbado was undeniably the supreme Mahler conductor of our time. With his Lucerne Festival Orchestra he has set new standards in the field of classical music, especially in the interpretation of works by Gustav Mahler. The core of the orchestra is provided by the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, itself an élite body of players. Soloists like violinist Kolja Blacher, clarinettist Sabine Meyer, oboist Albrecht Mayer, violist Wolfram Christ, cellist Natalia Gutman, the Hagen Quartet and members of the Alban Berg Quartet to name just a few, make the Lucerne Festival Orchestra a star-studded ensemble.