- Symphony No. 5 in D minor, Op. 47
Prior to the release of this 2005 live performance of the "Fifth Symphony," Günther Herbig and the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Saarbrücken's recordings of Shostakovich's symphonies had been sub-par, suffering from a lack of color and energy. No such charges can be laid against their "Fifth." Though not what you might call tight, this "Fifth" roars and howls and beats its metaphorical fists against injustice. The brass may sometimes be unbearably bombastic, and the tempos are frequently over driven, but the overall conviction of the performance is ultimately convincing. There have been compelling performances of this twentieth century classic before -- one thinks of Mravinsky's, Kondrashin's, Rozhdestvensky's, and a host of others, Soviet and non-Soviet -- but through sheer unbearable intensity, Herbig and the Saarbrücken orchestra's performance can stand comparison with any of them. Recorded in brutally honest sound, this disc has everything going for it except filler. But while 50 minutes is rather short shrift, the performance more than makes up for it.