Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Benjamin Britten, Dmitry Shostakovich, English Chamber Orchestra|
Britten the Performer 13 - Shostakovich: No.14; Britten: Nocturne, Op.60
Genres: Pop, Classical
A Recording of Power and Historical Significance
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 02/03/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Shostakovich's Symphony No. 14 'Symphony of Death', perhaps one of his more personal and contemplative works written when he was gravely ill, was dedicated to Benjamin Britten and after the 1969 premiere in Russia, Britten was the first to perform the work in the Western world. This recording is a successful remastering of the original made in 1973 and it is important for many reasons.
Britten as a conductor was a meticulous rehearsal conductor and while his podium style was reserved, the depth of his performances was directly due to the intense preparation of the work in rehearsal. Here Britten conducts the English Chamber Orchestra and utilizes the talents of the two soloists who premiered the work - Mark Rezhetin and Galina Vishnevskaya. The balance between the orchestra and the voices is fine and if the soloists seem to overpower the delicacy of the orchestral writing, that is in part due to the quality of these two singers' vocal production. Vishnevskaya was a highly regarded Russian soprano (wife of Rostropovich) but her voice is one that requires an ear for the Slavic approach to singing: there is wide lurching and wobbling and stridency that for these ears quickly becomes wearing. Rezhetin has the requisite dark Russian basso sound but the poetry is suggested rather than felt.
Shostakovich's Symphony No. 14 is not often performed and the reasons may lie in the content. The work is based on poems about death and the tone of the work can be grim if concentration lags. Britten keeps it all in place and manages to make this premiere recording one of true value. The CD is 'filled' with a fine performance of Britten's 'Nocturne, for tenor, 7 instruments & strings, Op. 60' sung by Peter Pears for whom the work was composed. It is a glorious work and makes a fine recital with the Shostakovich. This CD is definitely one that belongs in the collection of those who appreciate 'first performances' of important works. Highly Recommended, Grady Harp, February 06"