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Shostakovich: Symphony No. 4

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - EJ Johnson
Shostakovich had nearly completed his Fourth Symphony when, in early 1936, Stalin attended a performance of the composer's opera Lady Macbeth of the Mtensk District, found it not to his liking, and had it denounced in print, signaling repressive new strictures on Soviet composers. Shostakovich finished his symphony, but, no doubt swayed by the mounting tyranny, he wisely let the score languish unperformed until 1961, when the premiere finally took place during a period of relative artistic liberty. The more familiar and tuneful Fifth Symphony -- Shostakovich's more palatable answer to his critics -- premiered instead in 1937, and with great success. Conceived on a grand ...
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - EJ Johnson
Shostakovich had nearly completed his Fourth Symphony when, in early 1936, Stalin attended a performance of the composer's opera Lady Macbeth of the Mtensk District, found it not to his liking, and had it denounced in print, signaling repressive new strictures on Soviet composers. Shostakovich finished his symphony, but, no doubt swayed by the mounting tyranny, he wisely let the score languish unperformed until 1961, when the premiere finally took place during a period of relative artistic liberty. The more familiar and tuneful Fifth Symphony -- Shostakovich's more palatable answer to his critics -- premiered instead in 1937, and with great success. Conceived on a grand scale and full of Mahlerian grotesqueries, wildly galloping marches, and often brutal energy, the Fourth is a thrilling ride, especially when the dynamic maestro Valery Gergiev is on the podium, as he is for this live recording of a 2001 performance by the Kirov Orchestra, at home in St. Petersburg's Mariinsky Theater. The raw blare of the brass and thud of the percussion strike with a visceral impact, and the ghostly high strings at the symphony's end seem all the more eerie in contrast. Gergiev's Shostakovich cycle has piled one success on another, and this vibrant entry is perhaps the best yet.
All Music Guide - James Leonard
Valery Gergiev holds the opening movement of Shostakovich's "Symphony No. 4" together by sheer willpower. Since the gargantuan movement sprawls like a drunken giant, lurching from pseudo-exposition through inchoate development and faux-recapitulation and amorphous coda, nothing else but willpower could possibly do it. And, amazingly enough, it works. With the tremendously muscular playing of the Kirov Orchestra, Gergiev makes chaos cohere and even convince, if not quite compel. After the opening movement, Shostakovich's "Fourth" does hold together and hold together brilliantly. The central movement is as tight and hard as a blackjack and the closing movement, although even larger and longer than the opening, has a dramatic logic as rigorous and severe as a machine gun. But Gergiev's will power never relaxes and his closing movement is not only coherent and convincing, it is immensely compelling. Indeed, taken altogether, Gergiev and the Kirov's "Fourth" is surely the most compelling recording of the work to come out of Russia since Kiril Kondrashin's premiere recording from the '60s. No higher praise is possible. Philips' sound has the impact and immediacy of a sledgehammer.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 11/9/2004
  • Label: Philips
  • UPC: 028947084228
  • Catalog Number: 000340602
  • Sales rank: 179,066

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1–6 Symphony No. 4 in C minor, Op. 43 - Clive Bennett & Dmitry Shostakovich (64:09)
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
Valery Gergiev Primary Artist
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