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Thread: Shostakovich Symphony Recommendations?

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    Default Shostakovich Symphony Recommendations?

    There is a lot of discussion about Shostakovich here but I didn't find a (at least recent) thread just about his Symphonies and recordings thereof. I thought it would be useful to have such a dedicated thread. Particularly as I'm unfamiliar with them and would appreciate recommendations for the best recordings of the best of them.

    Complete set recommendations would be welcome as well. Please mention the sound quality of all recordings suggested. I, at least, am only interested in those with good, if not great, sound, as the various Soviet recordings I've heard from the '50s and '60s are thin and harsh, qualities I'm allergic to.

    TIA

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    Love the 7th symphony (Leningrad). There was a TV programme about this symphony a while ago and I was hooked.

    My recording is

    RLPO

    Vasily Petrenko

    Have a whole set by the above orchestra & conductor so I have the Leningrad twice!
    Last edited by Judith; Sep-29-2017 at 18:04.

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    Thanks Judith. That is one of the sets that has intrigued me. Any thoughts about it as a whole?

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    I loved hearing Bernstein's 1959 version with the New York Philharmonic of the 5th symphony.

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    I have a very good collection of complete sets. IMO the Petrenko set is easily in the running for top place, both for the performances and for the sonics.

    But there are some extraordinary performances of the individual symphonies that can't be passed up. Bernstein's 1959 5th has been mentioned. Petrenko goes for the massive, intense, 70mm technicolor version with some incredibly slow tempi. It works. But Bernstein's is like an unstoppable express train. Don't get in the way!

    Another is the remarkable Bernstein/Chicago SO performance of DSCH's 7th. It's not a performance, it's an experience.
    Last edited by KenOC; Sep-29-2017 at 22:33.


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    My favorite is #10. This performance by the Helsinki Philharmonic under James De Preist and engineered by the legendary John Eargle is first rate in performance and production.
    This youtube video will give you an idea of the performance. The production quality must be heard on CD.



    I do not have a box set of Shostakovich symphonies, so no recommendations there.
    Last edited by Joe B; Sep-30-2017 at 01:04.
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    If you want a jump-start I'd go with his fourth as this was the one Shostakovich really put a lot of time and effort into and was keen to unleash before well-documented circumstances allegedly deterred him from doing so.

    Soviet era - Kondrashin on Melodiya or Rozhdestvensky on Olympia. Neither are live so you don't get that quintessential Belomorkanal cigarette-induce spluttering when you least want it.

    Otherwise, Haitink on LPO holds its own very well from a Western perspective (but that's the only one I've got - I've read good things about Petrenko and Previn, too)
    '...a violator of his word, a libertine over head and ears in debt and disgrace, a despiser of domestic ties, the companion of gamblers and demireps, a man who has just closed half a century without a single claim on the gratitude of his country or the respect of posterity...' - Leigh Hunt on the Prince Regent (later George IV).

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    Great topic - Shostakovich symphonies are major components in the symphonic repertoire,and are receiving lots of live performances at present.

    some favorites of mine - [I've heard many, many Shostakovich performances, and have performed his symphonies many times, as well]

    Sym #7, and Sym #1 - Bernstein/Chicago Symphony/DG - perhaps the finest symphony recordings I've ever heard. Bernstein's #7 is cosmic, a great performance - the first mvt crescendo is terrifying, and the finale is indescribable - one of the great sound spectaculars of all time. Wonderful performance of Shostakovich's 1st symphony. a remarkable work that already shows the genius of its creator.

    Sym #5 - I go for Bernstein/NYPO/1959. a classic performance, recorded in Boston Symphony Hall, after the orchestra had returned from its European/Russian tour. I've heard some/played some really fine versions, since then, but I'll still go back to LB/NYPO/59.

    Sym #8 - really heavy-duty piece - dark, foreboding, this is not happy music!!
    Solti/CSO is terrific. so is Mravinsky/LenPO - [9/60 BBC] - great recording - really gutsy.

    Sym #9 - Best ever - Kurtz/NYPO - 1947 - in remarkably good sound - classic performance.....but may be hard to find...Kondrashin/MoscowPO is really good, so is Solti/Carnegie Hall Project Orch - hand-picked orchestra for Solti's special program....very good - terrific solo work,crucial in #9.

    Sym #10 - great piece - the best recordings, IMO, may be hard to find -
    Stokowski/CSO live concert 3/66 - nothing like it!! [CSO archival set "Chicago SO - First !00 Years"]
    Mitropoulos/NYPO c. '54. wonderful - with superb solo work by NYPO.
    These may be hard to locate -
    Solti and Mravinsky have fine recordings of this major work.

    Sym #11 - lots of choices -
    Stokowski/HoustonSO is a long-time favorite.
    Mravinsky/LenPO is a top candidate as well.

    I've not yet heard them, but I would expect [from live performance experience] that some of the Nelsons/BostonSO recordings would be high recommendations, in very good up-to-date sound. Maybe not at the peak of the pyramid, but very fine accounts nonetheless. I plan to check them out....
    Hope this helps....
    Last edited by Heck148; Sep-30-2017 at 04:17.

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    From left field: Gustavo Dudamel and the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra does DSCH's 10th at the Proms back in 2007. A tremendous performance! Maybe someday Gustavo will do a complete cycle...

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XKXQzs6Y5BY


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    Quote Originally Posted by Heck148 View Post
    Sym #8 - really heavy-duty piece - dark, foreboding, this is not happy music!!
    Solti/CSO is terrific. so is Mravinsky/LenPO - [9/60 BBC] - great recording - really gutsy.


    Sym #10 - great piece - the best recordings, IMO, may be hard to find -
    Stokowski/CSO live concert 3/66 - nothing like it!! [CSO archival set "Chicago SO - First !00 Years"]
    Mitropoulos/NYPO c. '54. wonderful - with superb solo work by NYPO.
    These may be hard to locate -
    Solti and Mravinsky have fine recordings of this major work.

    I must second these choices. Mravinsky worked closely with Shostakovich, who for a time considered him the foremost conductor of his works, the one who understood them best. Solti also does Shostakovich well. Actually, all performances I have heard so far of these symphonies have suited me fine.
    Last edited by znapschatz; Sep-30-2017 at 04:31. Reason: troubles with the English language
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    I can't do a set of recommendations but I can recommend a set...the Haitink referred to with the LPO and ACO. The 11th is my favourite symphony but I find the hall acoustics on the Haitink work against this symphony so i also have the Petrenko/RLPO, the Wigglesworth/NRPO (stunning BIS sound) and Semyon Bychkov/WDRO which you can hear on Youtube. He takes the attack sequence too fast IMO, but everything else is great, with good sound.

    I also have Petrenko's 5th, 9th and 10th, also very good.
    Last edited by MacLeod; Sep-30-2017 at 08:00.
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    If you are looking for complete set recommendations, you can't really do better overall than Barshai with the WDR Sinfonieorchester on Brilliant Classics, recorded in the 1990's. There are two main reaons for this; the overall sound quality is very good (as is the orchestra - especially for this composer), and the set can be bought for very little outlay when comparing just how good it is. For me it beats the oft-cited Haitink set because it sounds so much more 'Russian', but with wonderful sonic quality.
    That being said, not all of the performances on the Barshai set are the best you'll find: I'd opt for another No.7, and another No.11 (Berglund with the Bournemouth SO on EMI Classics is superb in both), and my preference for No.5 is the recent Petrenko / Royal Liverpool recording on Naxos which has an absolutely terrifying (though very controvertial) ending taken much, much slower than just about any other recording. However, with the Barshai set you won't find a better recording of No.13 or (for my ears) No.10, and Nos. 9 and 6 are among the very best too.
    I agree with you about the harsh sound on many of the Russian stalwart recordings; these might be top-notch peformances but that is so often lost when the sound is so poor.
    There may come a time when Youtube won't let us do this...

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    Quote Originally Posted by classfolkphile View Post
    Thanks Judith. That is one of the sets that has intrigued me. Any thoughts about it as a whole?
    Listened to the 10th and again , fiery and full which is typical of them. Just listened to those two in the set so far, but love Petrenko and RLPO on the whole. Have most of the Tchaikovsky works performed by them with Petrenko and saw them all live a year and a half ago. One of the best concerts I had been to!

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    Start with the 5th and the 10th.
    Petrenko is a top modern choice, but I also love Nelsons' 5th with BSO.

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    For complete sets I second Techniquest's recommendation of Barshai with the WDR Sinfonieorchester — got it for like $20. I would prefer having Kondrashin if I had another $200 to spend. I especially like his 6th. Haitink I like too.

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