SHOSTAKOVICH: Symphony No. 6, Op. 54 – London Philharmonic Orchestra/ Sir Adrian Boult – Everest EVERCD 015, 33:07 [www.harkitrecords.com] ****:
This is the second CD reissue I am covering from the series remastered this year by the UK label Harkit – so far not distributed in the U.S. The series duplicates many of the selections from the original Everest label recorded in the late 50s and early 60s, many of which were also reissued in a now out-of-print series by Omega Records in 1996.
The pairing-up of multiple works is, however, sometimes different from the earlier CD reissues. For example, the Omega version of the Shostakovich Sixth also included his Ninth Symphony, providing a 58-minute total length. The Symphony No. 6 was completed in 1939 and was the first of several of his symphonies to start with a long slow movement. The recording dates from 1959. The 20-minute Largo movement is lyrical and very intense. The final part of the scherzo may remind one of Mendelssohn, and the work ends with a “peoples-positive” Soviet-era-sounding march. I find Leonard Bernstein’s version of the Sixth more exciting and emotional, but poorer soundwise.
The notes with the 1996 reissue states that it was mastered from the original 35mm source, which they were surprised to find in good condition after all that time has passed. Well, most of them are no longer in good condition and the Harkit reissue makes no promises about a 35mm source. Yet comparing the two discs via headphones, I could hear no appreciable difference between them. Both are first-rate performances and first-rate sonics.
– John Sunier