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Reviews: Shostakovich: Symphonies Nos. 1 & 6 - Jurowski

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Reviews: 5

Site review by Castor April 2, 2006
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Site review by Polly Nomial July 5, 2006
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Review by Edvin March 18, 2006 (9 of 9 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
After the Tchaikovsky/Stravinsky my hopes were high, and so were my expectations. Was I dissapointed? No, not at all..except for some details.
In the booklet you can read as follows, "The 6th symphony...could be viewed as a musical commentary on Stalin´s purges that cost millions of lives". Well, or not! You could view it as a piece of music only and something tells me that this is exactly what Jurowski does. I may be wrong but this is the warmest and most loving performance ever on disc. Jurowski starts not with a statement but with a warm and almost sensous sound. As the movement progresses it becomes even more clear that this is music making of the highest order and not a history lesson.

The playing of the Russian National Orchestra is brilliant and the massive sound of the tuttis are something to write home about. This is a strange symphony though, layout wise. My favorite recording is that from Paavo Berglund and the Bournemouth Symphony because he makes no excuses to the unorthodox form. Jurowski doesn´t paint as desolate a picture as does Berglund in the first movement, but the orchestral contribution is clearly superior. But maybe I miss the sense of desolation, the vistas..yes, I am contradicting myself here.

The Allegro is taken at a break-neck speed with virtuoso playing. This is a monster of a movement and a whirling nightmare. But the temperature is slightly lower for the finale and it is not until the final pages that the orchestra rises and brings the piece to a triumphant close. To sum up, a marvellous performance and the best among the moderns.

The first symphony is an enigmatic piece. It is very close to my heart and my favorite is Bernstein in Chicago on DG. This is very good to great, but not really up there among the Lenny´s.
The first movement starts of fine and everything is nice and dandy. Unfortunately Jurowski allows tensions to drop every now and then and concentration to slip, it is a bit to slow here and there. But as soon as the movement gathers momentum it is fantastic with exactly the right amount of grotesquerie.

The second movement starts brilliantly and I am full of admiration. This slightly weird music is played wonderfully. But, and this is a big but, the trio section is far too slow. It almost comes to a halt completely. As this is one of the loveliest sections I find it a major drawback. The coda, echoes of Prokofiev, is splendidly done with some ghostly overtones.

No complaints about the slow movement nor the finale. These strange creatures are perfectly performed by Jurowski and I have no complaints whatsoever. On the contrary, I am full of admiration.

The sound is marvellous with a full and warm atmosphere. The timpani is somewhat clouded in tutti passages, but come into there own in the first symphony´s finale. The soundstage is wide and open with horns and other brass instruments given room to expand. Strings sound full and warm and woodwind clear and sonorous. All in all I warmly recommend this sacd, the flaws I found are just a matter of personal taste and you may think I am wrong.

I do wish that Pentatone recorded some more Stravinsky with this orchestra and Jurowski. And I also wish that Pentatone could have found a more flattering picture of Jurowski. The one on the cover is so old fashioned, and downright ugly. Why is it that so few record companies care about the designs of their products.

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Review by Johnno April 16, 2006 (4 of 4 found this review helpful)
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Like Edvin, I approached this disc with high expectations after hearing the Tchaikovsky Suite No. 3 and Stravinsky "Fairy's Kiss" Divertimento from the same forces and ended up being somewhat disappointed.
First things first. I took this disc up to a friend's place for my initial listen. He has a multichannel set-up and I found the sound full and rich, with excellent spaciouslness and clarity and a believable soundstage -- in short impressive. When I listened to it at home through my (second) SACD set-up, which is stereo-only, the sound seemed curiously lacking in spaciousness and depth with a somewhat veiled mid-range, despite the fact that, overall, that system would have better technical specifications than my friend's system. I am beginning to wonder whether companies are now optimising their recordings for multichannel performance and tending not to worrying unduly about getting the two-channel mix as good as possible. I hope that isn't a trend.
As to the performances I, too, found the trio of the first symphony's scherzo far too slow although the tempi for the sysmphony seem for the most part well chosen. I thought the first movement of the sixth was marginally too slow as well. It also seemed to lack tension and drama, as in the first tutti for example where both strings and brass didn't sound as if their life depended on it. The dymanic range of the recording is certainly very wide in that movement, emphasising some lovely soft string playing later on. The second movement is on the fast side too (it's only marked Allegro) while the finale (marked Presto) starts well but perhaps loses momentum later on. The orchestral playing is certainly of high quality but there are certainly other recordings of both symphonies that I prefer.

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Review by Luukas January 27, 2015 (4 of 6 found this review helpful)
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These interpretations are excellent examples of charismatic conducting. Shostakovich's First Symphony is powerful here. Sixth is also very good. Russian National Orchestra shines. PentaTone's outstanding recording crowns this disc. Magnificent!

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