Resplendant Sound but ...
Geoffrey Segebarth | Kansas City, Missouri | 04/09/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"The Shostakovich 5th is one of my "desert island" pieces that sounds as fresh as ever over decades of listening to this piece. The SACD sound is simply gorgeous. How about the performance? Well if you consider an old Bernstein recording with the New York Philharmonic as the best of a large batch (as I do) this will disappoint you. The tempo is considerably slower than Bernstein's and lacks the crispness and ferocity that imbues Bernstein's recordings. If beautiful engineering along with a more romantic and languid conducting appeals to you then get this disk. It is, however, not my cup of tea."
Good in parts
Benjamin | UK | 04/26/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"If you are familiar with Shostakovich's music the 5th Symphony will probably need no introduction, if you are not the 5th is a very good a place to start; a very accessible work of contrasts and exuberance.
The recording quality here is not in question, the sound is very good, but what of the playing? It is certainly a noble performance, but in this instance that is not always a good thing, perhaps for "noble" read slow. This works well with the largo, it certainly conveys requisite feeling of anguish, but the problem here is that this slow approach is extended to the rest of the symphony. This overall slow treatment results in a somewhat lack-lustre performance. The first movement comes across as ponderous; the last movement starts off with a rather plodding tempo; it does gain momentum, but fails to gain in excitement, and while the coda produces a great sound, it fails to move.
The Seven Romances on Poems of Alexander Blok fair somewhat better, well sung rich and at times appropriately husky; there is some fine mournful playing too from the cellist Hai-Ye Ni and subtly from Eschenbach on piano. However it is an odd coupling with the Symphony, not perhaps what one would choose to listen after Shostakovich's 5th; it certainly makes a strange transition.
If it's Shostakovich's 5th you are after, there is no shortage of better performances available: Jansons on EMI, Haitink on Decca and at bargain price Rahbari on Naxos to mention a few.