Forget Superman at Six Flags. Get your thrills and chills with Shostakovich, Jansons, and the Philadelphia Orchestra today!
My general problem with most recordings of the 11th Symphony fall into two categories: sound quality and tempo. I feel extremely short-changed if people rush through this work, especially at the most transcendental moments such as the cor anglais solo in the last movement. Shostakovich? Transcendental? Well, maybe not in the spiritual sense, but the despairing wail of the solo cor anglais rises far above the melee and mayhem of the previous 55 minutes or so--utterly heartbreaking on this recording. The other issue is mostly a problem with the LSO Live engineers, who I think don't quite understand how an orchestra should sound.
Jansons has no such problems with either, although my last pet peeve, the short last note and quiet chimes, does happen in this recording, but the whole rest of it makes up for those, I think.
Not just "merely adequate," Jansons goes far above these bare minimum requirements. The brass are terrifying, the strings electric, and the solo cor anglais, as mentioned above, will make you weep, if you're in the right (wrong?) mood. The percussion have good presence most of the time, excepting the last moments in the chimes.
The biggest shock in this recording came when Jansons nearly doubles the tempo at the percussion solo in the 9 Jan. movement. This actually sounded pretty fair to me after my initial shock: sounded like real gunfire, almost. Whatever the case, I don't mind it at all.