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|Dmitry Shostakovich, Mstislav Rostropovich, National Symphony Orchestra|
Shostakovich: Symphony No. 8
When the Soviet Union finally collapsed, allowing Mstislav Rostropovich and his wife Galina Vishnevskaya to return to their homeland for the first time since their citizenship was stripped from them in 1972, he brought w... more »
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When the Soviet Union finally collapsed, allowing Mstislav Rostropovich and his wife Galina Vishnevskaya to return to their homeland for the first time since their citizenship was stripped from them in 1972, he brought with him his Washington orchestra and this symphony. No one was closer to the composer than Rostropovich and his wife, and no one interprets his symphonies with greater fidelity to the letter and spirit of the scores. As if understanding the importance of the event, the National Symphony really surpassed themselves in the quality and intensity of their playing. This recording, then, comes as close to being definitive as it's possible to get. It's an event. --David Hurwitz
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A great symphony from a great interpreter.
C. Noble | Portland, OR USA | 01/19/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"When I was attending the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, I would often drive down 95 to hear the National Symphony play. Slava was music director then, and he often got uneven results from his band. The Russian/Soviet repertory, however, was the one area in which both Slava and his orchestra consistantly excelled. The pathos of this music is brought out in vivid, slashing colors. The brasses snarl, the strings are supple and strong, the winds pungeant and evocative of tone. This is perhaps, along with the No. 7 "Leningrad" his definitive wartime symphony. It's a great ride with this master of the Russian repertoire and his orchestra."
Jason Amsden | Boston, MA United States | 04/05/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Listing to this CD after I bought it was my first experience with Shostakovich's eighth symphony, the National Symphony, and Rostropovich. I was absolutely astounded. The playing is flawless and full of energy. The interpretation emphasizes the terror and irony.Extremely highly recommended."
Dull 2nd and 3rd movements ruin the impact
R. Hutchinson | a world ruled by fossil fuels and fossil minds | 02/06/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
"If this was the only recording of the 8th I'd heard, I would not know it was one of the greats of the 20th century. It is, and I know because I've heard Solti's recording with the Chicago Symphony from 1989 (Decca #425 675-2). Where Rostropovich and his National fall down is in the pivotal 2nd and 3rd movements, the Allegretto and Allegro non troppo. This is the climax, the battle scene, with horrifying string passages and the insanity of war conveyed by a lone trumpet. In contrast to Solti and Chicago's taut snap and anticipation , Rostropovich and the National are mushy here, and miss the mark. The other movements are fine, but the overall impact is ruined because the climax is muffed. With the Solti out-of-print, the best version is Haitink's (see my 10/10/03 review).
The notes by Hurwitz are not accurate -- this disc was recorded at the JFK Center in Washington in 1991, not Moscow, so it's not "an event." There may be a recording of the 8th from Rostropovich's first return to Russia since he left in 1972, but this is not it.
UPDATE) Unfortunately the new live 8th recordeded by Rostropovich and the London Symphony Orchestra in 2004 is even slower and less compelling, despite the beatiful playing by the orchestra (see my review), so my recommendation stands to go with Haitink!"