"This is historic because this is the recording of the premere of the symphony.Also, the unrevised Yevstushenko texts are used (after this performance,the Communist censors added sveral passages to the first movement). This was a groundbreaking piece because it broke the silence of the Holocaust that happened within Russia.Then there is the music. Kondrashin,sometimes not the greatest Shostakovichian, is totally on the mark here. He owns this piece. The orchestra is uncouth and garish. The brass is raw and the percusson is too loud - all perfect for the 13th Symphony.The 13th can be counted along with the 4th,5th,8th and 10th as one of the "great" symphonies of our time.This work may not be the best introduction to the often grim world of DS,there is no doubt that this is truly scary and powerful beyond expression."
Worth Tracking Down
127 | Michigan | 10/13/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This recording is tough to come by, but is well worth the effort. Shostakovich's 13th was and is a huge political statment, especially in the Soviet Union in the early 60's. The story concerns anti-semitism and a massacre of Jews during WW II, as well as other poetic commentary on the Soviet Union by a poet who was then considered politically dubious by the Soviet authorities. This recording features the conductor who premiered the work, as well as the ensemble and soloist, and the recording was made shortly after the premiere itself. This is a live performance, and the crowd is audible. Sometimes that can be irritating, but it lends to the excitement here because to even attend a performance of such a "questionable" work at the time was a bold move that could have brought recrimination. At the end of the work, the CD includes several seconds of applause, something that again is often irritating. Here, it further lends to the atmospehere that surrounds the work. One can not only enjoy this powerful music, but can also envision the atmosphere of the actual performance.The soloist and choir have the deep dark sound that is needed here, and it is also interesting to note that the soloist here is the back-up to the intended soloist. As a precaution, two soloists were trained in case something were to happen, and on the day of the performance, the first soloist called in sick. The back-up soloist found that he would perform on the day of the premiere and did an excellent job. Recent recordings of this work (Solti and Masur, for example) display better instrumental techniques, but the aura surrounding this CD evens things out.This was a dangerous piece for Shostakovich to have written, for players to participate in, and for an audience to attend. This excellent recording is a part of history for that reason, and that lends to an already thrilling work. If you can't find this CD, Solti/ CSO and Masur/ NYPO are also excellent accounts, but don't miss an opportunity to add this to your library."
Matthew D. White | New Orleans, LA | 04/25/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I searched for this CD for nearly a decade, and finally stumbled upon it in a small used CD shop on Conti Street in New Orleans, of all places. Boy, was it ever worth the wait.Because of the controversial nature of this work, this performance has an uncanny but undeniable "buzz" about it; a live performance of the work recorded in the Soviet Union at a time when it was about to be pulled from performance by the government. The recording, made live in 1963, sounds better than you could ever imagine. Though the tympani is out of tune during the intoduction to "Humour", and the mix and miking are sometimes a tiny bit off-balance, the sound is spectacular, even by today's standards. This CD has incredible power, and I have yet to hear another interpretation of Symphony #13 that can match it, including those by Haitink and Rostropovich. You may have to wait awhile or pay extra for this disc, but I would consider it an absolute must-have in any comprehensive classical collection, especially for admirers of Shostakovich."
Stefan Steinsson | Hvolsvelli, Iceland | 06/04/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is the best. The recording was unofficial. It was December 20th 1962, a follow up of the premiere two days earlier. Soviet authorities were not amused. You can hear all the nervous coughing of smoking Muscovites. Vitaly Gromadsky was I think the third bass they cheered up for the role. Did he sing again? Listening to the record is akin to being taken to the Large Hall amidst emotional strain. It is not enough for the composer to have joined the Party and composed his eleventh. He has never been further away from the true dissidents, mostly exiled. He risks becoming a conformist. But Mariya Yudina, the pianist, is quoted, 'With his 13th he has become one of us again'. They had attended the Petrograd Conservatory together. It sounds as if the choir, bass and orchestra really have something to say. Of course Kirill Kondrashin's genius matters. I have nowhere found another performance of Babi Yar remotely as good. This one gives me chills and sometimes sweat, and I am not a nervous man. I can wholeheartedly recommend it."
Worth More Than Its Price
D. A Wend | Buffalo Grove, IL USA | 08/02/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is THE recording of the Babi Yar symphony to have. You are transported back to the first performances of the symphony, which the Soviet government would rather not have allowed. Pressure was put to bear on Kondrashin to "become ill" and the original bass quit. This recording is also noteworthy because it presents the test of Babi Yar as it was first written by Yevtushenko which he subsequently changed to indicated that there were other victims than just Jews in the massacre. Shostakovich was forced to change his score to the new working.
The sound is good and the audience attending the performance is quiet until they applaud at the end. If you can get a copy of this CD, buy it."