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  Capriccio -
  71 013
  Shostakovich: Symphony No. 8 - Kitajenko
  Shostakovich: Symphony No. 8 in C minor Op. 65

Gürzenich-Orchester Köln
Dmitrij Kitajenko (conductor)
Track listing:
  Classical - Orchestral
Recording type:
Recording info:
  Recording: Köln, Philharmonie, 28.06.-02.07.2003 (Live Recording)
Recording Supervision and Editing: Jens Schünemann
Recording Engineer: Wolfram Nehls
Multichannel mix: Jens Schünemann, Wolfram Nehls at Studio 301, Cologne
SACD Mastering: Mazen Murad
Producer: Michael Kaufmann

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Related titles: 3

Reviews: 3

Review by stvnharr June 1, 2004 (4 of 5 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
WOW, this is a stunner!
I have long enjoyed the Shostakovich Symphony No. 8. This is music that has a lot of dynamic contrasts, and the ability to present a very dynamic recording. Certainly Andrew Litton's Dallas recording seemed to be the embodiment of this. I also thought he gave a pretty good reading of the symphony as a whole, although a little fast in places.
There is the BBC Legends recording with Mravinsky in London 1960. Legends are legends, even if the recording isn't a sonic legend.
My favorite reading of this symphony has long been the Rostropovich on Teldec. Everything seemed to be just right, not too fast, not too slow, just right.
And now there is this one. Neither the conductor, Kitajenko, nor the orchestra, Gurzenich-Orchester Koln, were familiar to me. However, that is not unusual in sacd these days. But in reading the notes, I learned that the new conductor of the orchestra is Markus Stenz, formerly of the Melbourne (Aus) Symphony, and I've attended several of his concerts and consider him a very very fine young conductor.
Then along comes this recording, oh another Shostakovich 8th. But the only one on sacd, so I give it a go once I learn where I can purchase the recording.
I've had several listens to this since I got it, and have compared it to the others, cd of course, in the collection. EVERYTHING in this recording stands out as superior to all others, and certainly the equal to the Rostropovich. The cor anglais solo towards the end of the first movement is so clear here, so like in a concert. I have long liked the third movement of this symphony and all the dynamic contrasts that it presents. Most readings tend to hurry a bit though this, and the Mravinsky really blasts with the horns. Rostropovich takes it a bit slower and controlled. Here, that Rostropovich control is refined even more.
The complete symphony recording is about 10 minutes more than most others. Yet it is never slow, never lags, it never seems anything but complete.

Apparently this is the first recording of what is to be a complete cycle of the 15 symphonies, supposedly to be complete by the 100th birthday of the composer. One can only hope that this is fulfilled as it would mean one recording every 3-4 months. And if they are all as good as this one.. we all are in for a real musical delight.

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Review by Dinko June 14, 2004 (3 of 5 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
Yet another high-fidelity Shostakovich cycle to add to the others currently in progress on SA-CD or DVD-A. They all seems to have their strong points, this first instalment in the Capriccio set is no exception.

In terms of sound, I find the woodwinds too prominent in the mix, they're kind of screechy at times - much too "in your face". The brass is a little distant for my taste, however the strings have a nice sound, from the basses all the way up to the violins. The percussion instruments have just enough power to make an impact without overwhelming the rest of the orchestra.

That said, if some things are too prominent and others not enough, the actual sound of the instruments sounds to me like it was reproduced with high fidelity, giving the instruments a vivid, lifelike, three-dimensional sound.

The surround mix is excellent, with hall ambience coming from the rear speakers. The front channels feature divided instruments. For example, the strings are mostly found in the front right and left channels, while woodwinds are more prominent in the center channel than are the strings.

I'm not fully convinced by Kitajenko's interpretation however. I find him rather slow. There are times when he gets the angular Shostakovich Sound nicely, at others where he seems a little slack. The middle section is the one I like most. All the essence of Shostakovich's style is perfectly captured by all involved. To me, the first, second and fourth movements sound too slow and too reflective. The fifth movement sounds just about right.

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Review by nickc February 25, 2006 (2 of 3 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
Although weightily played this is just not diabolic enough for me - for instance look at a comparison of 1st. movement timings:
Kondrashin: 23' 56"
Rostropovich (Teldec): 22' 51"
Haitink: 25' 55"
then Kitaenko 29' 38"!
The movement is marked adagio but at this tempo it just seems to crawl endlessly along and tension sags.

The second movement also suffers from a lack of forward momentum. The crushingly violent and famous 3rd. movement toccata is better but I still would prefer a faster basic tempo.

The 4th. movement adagio is beautifully played: I really feel like an eagle soaring over a blasted battlefield keening a song of sorrow.

The final movement is also an improvement over the earlier ones but by this stage it is all too late. When I listen to Shostakovich I want to hear the orchestra scream at their absolute corporate limit; this is all a little bit too comfortable.

The sound in MC is excellent - lower strings especially are as deep and dark as you could want yet when woodwind are called to shriek in your face (2nd. and 3rd. movements especially) that is what we get.

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Dmitri Shostakovich - Symphony No. 8 in C minor, Op. 65