Symphonies 6 & 9 Import
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|1. Symphonies No. 6 & 9: Largo|
|2. Symphonies No. 6 & 9: Allegro|
|3. Symphonies No. 6 & 9: Presto|
|4. Symphonies No. 6 & 9: Allegro|
|5. Symphonies No. 6 & 9: Moderato|
|6. Symphonies No. 6 & 9: Presto|
|7. Symphonies No. 6 & 9: Largo|
|8. Symphonies No. 6 & 9: Allegretto|
These recordings are part of Everest's extraordinary backlog of Fifties and Sixties classical masterpieces. Some of us have discovered "undiscovered" composers from these original vinyl LPs. Dmitri Shostakovich's music went through many stages and changes, depending on Stalin's mood. His Symphony No. 6 (1939) begins unpredictably with a grim largo that belies the happy Soviet modernism of his famous Symphony No. 5. Only in the Sixth do we start getting hints of Shostakovich's true feelings toward his country's plight. His Symphony No. 9 (1945) also fooled everybody, both for its brevity and for its humor. Sir Adrian Boult's recording of The Sixth is magnificent. Highly recommended. --Paul Cook
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The greatest surprise here is Boult's recording of Shostakovich's bitter and inward-looking Symphony No. 6, which begins with a lengthy Largo that incorporates much of the introspection, arcane personal torment, and introversion the composer endured under Stalin. I've heard this work done better by Mravinsky (in another title Arkiv has reinvented and rereleased) but this one is very good in its own right and sounds better than the Mravinsky. Boult, who had little or no profile in Soviet music, conducts this as if he knew the music from the inside and his orchestra plays real well for him.
Malcolm Sargent's version of the jaunty Symphony No. 9 has always been a favorite of mine, which puts me in the minority. Critics have hailed recorded translations from Bernstein, Caetini, Jarvi and even Eduardo Mata as preferable to this, which one critic labeled aristrocratic. That may sum up the playing of the London Symphony; yet I believe it undercuts the conductor's approach, which is very dramatic and vital in the final movement.
This is a good starting pointfor anyone new to the Symphony No. 9, which Stalin expected to be a majestic piece of Soviet agitprop celebrating the anniversary of the revolution ... but instead received Shostakovich's mocking portrait of the dictator and Soviet Russia. The 1960s sound was always good on Everest LPs and was transferred exceptionally well to Everest's CD. Arkiv has done a good job picking up the fidelity in this issue and offers it at a modest price. This is a bargain in the low price field and should be considered by anyone that wants to know the Shostakovich symphonice ouevre well.
Sir Adrian Boult has a tendency to emphasize the “bones” of a composition, the harmonic and melodic architecture, rather than its timbral or textural aspects. This tendency, very obvious in Boult’s interesting and unusual interpretation of Jan Sibelius’ 7th symphony, is also very apparent in his Shostakovich 6th symphony (1939). Boult takes tempi on the quicker side, which allows the progression and construction of the long opening Largo to be very apparent. The musicality is present throughout – this is not a wooden performance in any way – but it’s also very Brit, with the drama and anguish underplayed. I have been sampling several recordings of this fine symphony and would contrast Boult’s approach with its polar opposite, the recent Pentatone release from Vladimir Jurowski and the Russian National Orchestra, where the Largo is slowed down and reduced to mystic stillness at time. I like both approaches, one crisp, the other more spiritual, and think the 6th is rich enough to show well from either perspective.
Dating from 1945, the 9th symphony is one of those compositions that show any connection between external events and the music created at the time to be tenuous. External: a ravaged population at the brink of starvation decimated by war and Stalinist terror. The music: graceful, as witty and cheerful as anything you have heard. Malcolm Sargent and the London Symphony produce one of the best 9th symphonies I’ve had the pleasure of hearing. A very light, quick approach, the take sparkles and the sound engineering is phenomenally good. The Moderato 2nd movement is particularly effective, its thematic logic and development made very clear with the lead up to the culminating high descending-scale melody which caps the movement achieved with complete control. While the LSO here isn’t always perfect – there are blemishes here and there, for example in the first presentation of the subsidiary ascending scale theme in the same Moderato – it’s certainly good enough. I have several performances of the 9th in my collection. It’s one of those pieces that has elicited quite a few superior efforts from conductors and orchestras over the years, but this Sargent interpretation certainly ranks among the best of them.
Despite the date, this remains and excellent version of these two fine – and very different -- works. Strongly recommended.
Boult's recording of the 6th was the first I ever owned -- and my second Shostakovich recording, following the Mitropoulos/NY recording of the 5th (and how I miss that classic, mono recording!). Boult's genuine Largo pacing of the 1st movt. spoiled me for every other performance I've heard, since it was my initial exposure to this music. There is no denying Mravinsky's authority in this music, and yet I miss the great sorrow that Boult reveals in the pages of this Largo, and the great beauty of the song-like theme that emerges toward the end of the movement. The London Philharmonic is supurb.
Sargent, conducting the London Symphony, might not quite match the classic Efrem Kurz recording in bringing out all the slow movement has to offer as the heart and soul of this 'light weight' symphony, but who else has? This is fine stuff, and a good partner for Boult's excellent 6th.