Symphonies nos. 4 & 11

Symphonies nos. 4 & 11

"the year 1905"

Music CD - 2018
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Publisher: [Germany] :, Deutsche Grammophon,, [2018]
Characteristics: 2 audio discs : CD audio, digital ; 4 3/4 in. + 1 booklet
audio file,rda
CD audio


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Oct 19, 2018

I've waited a long time for this, the first recording since Kondrashin to do justice to Shostakovich 4, in my book the composer's greatest symphony, alongside #10. It demands a virtuoso orchestra and a conductor that can hold the disparate episodes together, at the same time bringing out both the humour and tragedy of the piece. Nelsons succeeds wonderfully. He's also given a recording far better than Melodiya's quixotic effort for Kondrashin, with its tape echoes, blips and engineering nosedives to accommodate the work's huge dynamic range. Mind you, there's some engineering fiddling going on in this recording, a little tampering to anticipate the quadruple forte passages here and there. It's also recorded at a fairly low level with a rather accentuated deep bass. If you have a subwoofer, be warned. Having said that, DGG's engineering has come a very long way since its woeful early digital disasters.
Recording wise, similar comments apply to symphony 11. Nelsons makes a good case for the work without quite managing the cohesion he achieves with the 4th. Whether he succeeds in convincing that this is better than second-rate Shostakovich is up to the listener. For me, be it Mravinsky, De Preist or Nelsons on the podium, the 11th symphony stands alongside 2 and 3 as the weakest of the 15.

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