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Shostakovich: Symphony No. 4 - Gergiev

Shostakovich: Symphony No. 4 - Gergiev

Philips Classics  475 619-0

Stereo/Multichannel Hybrid

Classical - Orchestral


Shostakovich: Symphony No. 4

Kirov Orchestra
Valery Gergiev (conductor)

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Review by Graham Williams - December 21, 2004

From the opening scream of the orchestra, this thrilling performance grips you by the throat from start to finish.Gergiev sets out at a more steady pace than some other versions that I have heard, but this enables him to illuminate the detail in every facet of this complex score and the fearless Kirov Orchestra manage to fulfil his demands admirably.

There is characterful woodwind playing (bassoons in particular) and dark, heavy brass on show throughout the performance.

The recording is stated to be ‘live’. But apart from the occasional quiet rustle there is no evidence of an audience present and, I am pleased to say, no applause at the end.

The close miking and very wide dynamic range of the recording almost puts you on the conductor’s podium, but there is still plenty of air around the instruments. The use of the surround channels is very discrete and I was hardly aware of their presence.

The long first movement (29m) has been divided into two tracks; the second starting at the terrifying Presto which taxes the strings to their limit and builds to a massive climax at (2m 10s) which is handled admirably by the recording without congestion or strain.
The tempo for the second movement (Moderato con moto) seems just right and Gergiev brings out the nightmarish qualities of the music, which so reminds me of the Scherzo of Mahler’s 7th Symphony.

In the Finale (allotted 3 tracks) Gergiev is masterly at handling the many changes of pace and mood, yet he still manages to make the movement seem logical and coherent. The start of the final section (track 6) is cataclysmic and the quiet ending is truly desolate and chilling.

There are a number of very good versions of this work on RBCD and I have not heard them all, but this one must be a current leader in the increasing list of Shostakovich symphonies on SACD.

Copyright © 2004 Graham Williams and HRAudio.net

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Sonics (Multichannel):

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