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Shostakovich: Symphony No. 15, October, Overture on Russian and Kirghiz Folk Themes
Dmitri Shostakovich, Nemme Jarvi, Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra
Shostakovich: Symphony No. 15, October, Overture on Russian and Kirghiz Folk Themes
Genre: Classical
 

      
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The Winter of Shostakovich
Moldyoldie | Motown, USA | 07/08/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Shostakovich's Fifteenth Symphony, his final symphony from 1971, is one tough nut to crack. One hears not only a quote from Rossini's William Tell Overture (The Lone Ranger theme), but obvious allusions to Wagner's Ring Cycle and Haydn's last symphony No. 104. The first movement sounds like nothing other than a toy shop come to life; then following three more tortuous movements, the symphony concludes with a woodblock connoting a toy clock ticking off time and fading out to mark the end of...one's life? The composer's life? His musical life? Possibly, as Shostakovich had suffered his second heart attack in '71.

For a different take on Symphony No. 15, I'd recommend one of Kurt Sanderling's available recordings, either with the Berlin Symphony (Schostakowitsch: Symphony No. 15) or the Cleveland Orchestra (Shostakovich: Symphony No.15, Rayok); he takes the final movement at a much more protracted tempo than Järvi, leading to a distinctly haunting conclusion.

October from 1967 is a rousing symphonic poem composed to mark the latest in a series of obligatory ten-year celebrations of the October Revolution. The Overture on Russian and Kirghiz Folk Themes from 1963 is another stirring crowd-pleaser marking the centenary of the Kirghiz region's incorporation into Tsarist Russia."
A satisfying account
G.D. | Norway | 04/19/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)

"This isn't exactly among the most celebrated accounts of Shostakovich's fifteenth symphony, but it is actually a rather good one (if not quite perfect, but then I've never heard any account of this rather difficult work coming even close to perfection); structurally very coherent, somewhat understated but with real attention to detail. The eerie atmosphere of the first movement is well realized, but there is, perhaps, a certain lack of profundity in the remaining movements. One real drawback, however, is Järvi's chosen tempo for the finale, which is rather too quick. Overall, the reading brings out a sense of mystery more than a feeling of existential bleakness.

The couplings are rarities from Shostakovich's later years. October is a rabble-rouser - an atmospheric, but almost banally patriotic symphonic poem. It is emphatically no masterpiece, but is still very much worth hearing. The Overture on Russian and Kirghiz themes is no less crowd-pleasing in expressive language (but still skillfully written). Coupling them with the mysterious, inward-looking and rather difficult symphony is interesting, for despite the very different mode of expression and purpose, many commonalities are clearly discernible when these two works are heard back to back with the symphony - and, perhaps surprisingly, it doesn't only add a dimension to October and overture, but in a subtle way serves to underline the duality and pained sense of existential confusion in the symphony. Sound quality is clear and well-balanced, and overall this disc can be safely recommended, if not as a first choice in the symphony."