Shostakovich Fifth Symphony conducted with fire by Rostropovich

by | Jun 1, 2005 | SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

SHOSTAKOVICH: Symphony No. 5 – London Symphony Orchestra/Mstislav Rostropovich – LSO Live multichannel SACD LS00550, 46:58 ****:

This militaristic-sounding symphony is considered the most socialist of
Shostakovich’s symphonies, his kow-towing to the Soviet authorities who
demanded a simpler and more direct style without the dissonances and
other effects that made him a supreme satirist in music. However, he
slipped one by them in this work which is full of snare drums and march
rhythms and on one level sounds thoroughly patriotic as the best model
of what Soviet music ought to be.  But on another level –
especially with the interpretive thrust brought to the Fifth by
Soviet-era escapee Rostropovich – the work becomes a sonic depiction of
the regime’s brutality rather than its glory.  He even outdoes the
dramatics of Leonard Bernstein’s powerful version on Sony Classical,
and of course in vastly enhanced multichannel hi-res sonics. As a
London paper observed after the performances there, “one feels
Shostakovich’s trauma behind every note of the music.”  What I
would like to know is how the LSO recording team gets the live audience
at these performances to not break into tumultuous applause and cheers
over the dying-out of the last notes on these recordings!

– John Sunier 
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