- Symphony No. 5 in D Minor, Op. 47
- Symphony No. 9 in E flat major, Op. 70
The argument could be made that Valery Gergiev and his Kirov orchestra's 2002 recording of Shostakovich's "Fifth" and "Ninth" symphonies on Philips is the ne plus ultra of Shostakovich recordings. The sound of the recording is staggering: crisp, rich, and vivid. The playing of the orchestra is stunning: plush, powerful, and precise. The conducting is superb: strong, firm, and flexible. The argument could also be made that this is far more a Gergiev/Kirov recording than a Shostakovich recording. Gergiev interprets like mad: pushing and pulling tempos, stopping, starting, then suddenly changing the tempo altogether. His louds are overwhelming, his quiets are almost inaudible, and the distance between the two is incommensurable. There are times in this recording when it sounds as if the music is going to explode from the incredible and inexorable intensity of Gergiev's interpretations. While nothing like the recordings of Yevgeny Mravinsky with the Leningrad Philharmonic, the conductor and orchestra that gave the work its premiere, Gergiev with the Kirov's recording is nothing if it's not the ne plus ultra.