SHOSTAKOVICH: Symphony No. 7 in C Major, Op. 60 “Leningrad” – Russian Federal Orchestra/ Vakhtang Jordania – Angelok

by | Nov 28, 2005 | Classical CD Reviews | 0 comments

SHOSTAKOVICH: Symphony No. 7 in C Major, Op. 60 “Leningrad” –
Russian Federal Orchestra/ Vakhtang Jordania – Angelok CD-9915, 
71:13 ****:

Conductor Vakhtang Jordania comes to the Shostakovich C Major Symphony
(1942) through legitimate means: he served as assistant music director
to Evgeny Mravinsky at the Leningrad Philharmonic. By now, the details
of the symphony’s genesis are common knowledge: Shostakovich sketched
the work out in July 1941, a massive piece whose first three movements
the composer completed by September 29, 1941, in the throes of the Nazi
invasion. The repetitive, 18-measure invasion motif came to symbolize
not only the Nazi horde but any spiritual march to fascism. Having
evacuated the city of Leningrad, Shostakovich completed the symphony on
December 27, 1941. After its premier, given as a requiem for fallen
heroes on 5 March 1942, the score quickly found its way to the United
States for hastily-mounted performances by Toscanini and Stokowski.

The present performance derives from tapings at Bolshoi Hall at the
Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Moscow, January 2003. In brilliant sound
and high-velocity colors, Jordania’s reading is in the grand tradition
we have come to expect from Russian conductors in Russian music. The
Moderato, a kind of militant polonaise, employs shrieking winds and
pipes, a hallucinatory dance of death. The Adagio and final Allegro non
troppo convey a grim, intrepid courage. The Russian Federal Orchestra,
organized in 1993 by Maestro Jordania, proves responsive in every way,
especially in the sometimes gusty tempos which make the reading by
Celibidache from Berlin seem bloated in comparison. What the symphony
communicates now that the battles have been won, so to speak, is a raw
power – something like a huge boa constrictor. There are individual,
lyric touches in the Adagio, but they are somber smiles, with a cast
taken from Schubert’s Winter’s Journey. A fine disc, but its dark
message may lie on your record shelf for long intervals between
hearings.

–Gary Lemco

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