Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Bernard Haitink, Marius Rintzler, Royal Concertgebouw Men's Chorus|
Ovation--Shostakovich: Symphony No. 13 / Haitink
Listen to Samples
Sounds Great, But Misses The Heart
Timothy Dougal | Madison, Wi United States | 12/13/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
"As other reviewers point out, this is a monumental, great sounding performance. It is also heavy handed, slow, and misses something essential to the work that Shostakovich created in his Symphony #13. What is the 'Babi Yar' symphony? It began when Shostakovich read Yevtushenko's controversial poem 'Babi Yar' and decided to set it to music. He then expanded the work into a song cycle of settings of Yevtushenko's poems, one of which was specifically written for the cycle. The heart of the work is the bass who sings these songs. A male choir responds to and ampifies what the soloist sings. The orchestra fills out and illustrates the music that the soloist sings. This is the work Shostakovich wrote. It is not what Haitink delivers. In this massive performance, he clarifies the structures and textures of the accompaniment and puts them first. The chorus and soloist are just pieces of a symphonic puzzle to be elucidated and virtuosically played. The performance is almost the reverse of Shostakovich's intention. The considerable emotional range of each of the songs is flattened by Haitink's heavy hand into relative monotony. (When you hear another bass sing this, you'll understand) The slow, tightly controlled tempos don't help matters. Whatever you may think of Yevtushenko's poetry, they are NOT emotionally flat or tightly controlled! There are livelier performances of this work out there that are truer to nature of this symphony, even though they are generally less available. Keep looking. It's worth it."
A stunning performance
chefdevergue | Spokane, WA United States | 05/04/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have always seen #13 as the greatest of Shostakovich's symphonies. Its moods include despair, defiance (both loud and quiet), anger at oppression, but ultimately ends in a mood of some optimism. Ultimately it affirms that the artist has a duty to speak the truth, no matter what the risk. The artist must force people to acknowledge what they would prefer to ignore, and although the artist may suffer greatly for this, he will ultimately triumph and be remembered.Shostakovich was certainly writing from the heart when composing this symphony, and the result is a gripping work from beginning to end. Haitink and the Concertgebouw Orchestra have done an excellent job. I believe this is the finest of Haitink's Shostakovich cycle. Some people have criticized his treatment as being heavy-handed, but I don't see how one could listen to the final movement and make that accusation,This is an essential CD for any Shostakovich collection. If you know Shostakovich only for his 5th Symphony, then you will be in for a suprise."
Begins and Ends with the Toll of the Bell
Karl Henning | Boston, MA | 07/12/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The story goes that Shostakovich read Yevtushenko's poem "Babi Yar" in a journal, and immediately wanted to set it to music, and in fact he had practically done the work when he called the poet for permission to use the poem. Then began a kind of collaborative process in which Yevtushenko wrote four other poems, so that settings of the five would together comprise a symphony for orchestra, solo bass and men's chorus.The first movement is so marvelously dramatic and so perfectly complements the text, that anything I might say would be superfluous. Shostakovich's talent for building "brute textures" here has full play, in music of searing directness and simplicity."Humor" is a heavy-booted scherzo for the second movement; a little too heavy perhaps, though it absolutely serves the text (rulers have commanded parades, demonstrating their might, but they cannot command humor, which is always a power of the people).Where in his eighth symphony, Shostakovich wrote a symphony with two scherzi, here in the thirteenth, he pulls off two slow movements. The first of these, "In the Store", begins with a low-string monologue, establishing a long-breathed rhythm which is maintained throughout. Most of the movement is fairly quiet, like the lives of the Russian women whose strength and perseverance is commemorated in the poem, and who bore the brunt of the injustices and hardships of the Soviet era. A long crescendo builds to accentuate indignation at their treatment by self-interested merchants ("It is shameful to short-change them, It is sinful to short-weight them").Such were the circumstances of his life, that Shostakovich refined the writing of gloomy music to an intense degree; the opening of the fourth movement, "Fears," with its seemingly aimless muffled tuba, grumbles in the percussion played so softly that you strain to hear them, a keening melody in the low strings, and then the men's choir coming in on a monotone, "Fears are dying out in Russia" ... in a way personally unfortunate for the composer, but artistically fortunate for the world, Shostakovich had been prepared by long years to write just such a chilling passage of musical understatement.The last movement, "A Career" alternates between a tired, and almost strangely complacent, waltz theme introduced by the flute, and a bumptious setting of the text itself, so that when the bass solo and the men's choir are present, the feeling of the second movement ("Humor") is distantly recalled. But the bouncy music evolves into a fughetta, which turns edgy with the horn entrance; this subsides into a graver mood for the voices ("Those who hurled curses have been forgotten, We remember the ones they cursed"). The bells which opened the symphony come back, softer, the nostalgic waltz returns in the strings ... at the last, a final toll of the bell dies away into silence.Marius Rintzler has a fine voice, and the chorus sound fine as well; their Russian pronunciation could be better, but is fair for the most part. The Concertgebouw Orchestra sound fabulous, and do the piece perfect justice."