Shostakovich 4

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Shostakovich 4

Post by slofstra » Fri Mar 12, 2010 10:11 am

Last night I listened to the Symphony 4 release on CSO Resound. That's a great recording but I wanted to mention the bonus DVD that comes with the disc which is worth the price all on its own. The historical context of the symphony and its suppression is visited in some detail, and there are extended interviews with Bernard Haitink and presenter Gerard McBurney.

I watched everything on the DVD except the interview with McBurney as it was getting late. I think that Haitink has a greater feeling and sense for Shostakovich, the man, than what is commonplace and also somewhat at odds with the DVD content. There have been those who decried Shostakovich as a tool of the Communist state, and lately the view has tended to him being some kind of anti-Communist subversive. To me, neither view seems to fit. Haitink states that Shostakovich seemed to live in his own world. That impression fits with my view from all I`ve read that Shostakovich just wanted to compose good or significant music and keep his head down. And doing just that was never easy for him.

Haitink was asked if he thought the fourth Symphony was a tragic work and replied emphatically that it was not. At the time Shostakovich was a young man with energy who did not know everything that was ahead of him. For myself, I see the symphony as reflecting the youthful energy of the Russia of the time with some foreboding for the future. The symphony had largely been written before 'Muddle instead of Music' appeared in Pravda and before the party purges began.

There are some other surprising insights in the Haitink interview, esp about the symphony cycle he recorded on Decca. I won`t reveal them here because you can just purchase the CD and enjoy it yourself. One gets the feeling that with the CSO, Haitink is creating a retrospective of the single works that have drawn his attention and ardour over the years. After this one I plan to buy and listen to them all.

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Re: Shostakovich 4

Post by karlhenning » Fri Mar 12, 2010 11:25 am

Truly an outstanding cd+dvd, Henry!

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Re: Shostakovich 4

Post by Modernistfan » Fri Mar 12, 2010 11:44 am

I have not heard the new Chicago Haitink Shostakovich Fourth. However, I think that there are better alternatives for a cycle than the earlier Haitink Decca cycle, who, in my opinion, underplays the Russian elements of the symphonies to some extent (for a long time, though, Haitink was the only game in town for a complete cycle). You might try Jansons on EMI or Barshai on Brilliant (if you can find it). Avoid Kofman on MD&G at all costs! The new Naxos cycle with Vasily Petrenko and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra is off to a spectacular start, but so far Naxos has released only the Fifth, Ninth, and Eleventh. When that cycle is complete, it may well be the cycle of choice. In any event, you must hear these symphonies.

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Re: Shostakovich 4

Post by slofstra » Fri Mar 12, 2010 11:58 am

Modernistfan wrote:I have not heard the new Chicago Haitink Shostakovich Fourth. However, I think that there are better alternatives for a cycle than the earlier Haitink Decca cycle, who, in my opinion, underplays the Russian elements of the symphonies to some extent (for a long time, though, Haitink was the only game in town for a complete cycle). You might try Jansons on EMI or Barshai on Brilliant (if you can find it). Avoid Kofman on MD&G at all costs! The new Naxos cycle with Vasily Petrenko and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra is off to a spectacular start, but so far Naxos has released only the Fifth, Ninth, and Eleventh. When that cycle is complete, it may well be the cycle of choice. In any event, you must hear these symphonies.
I have the Haitink Decca cycle, and I'm sure that there might be better ones. I would advocate not buying a cycle at all as there are so many worthwhile singles around, and varying degrees of interpretation. Buying a cycle generally implies compromise; and price would be my main determinant in buying one .. so that one does at least have one rendition of everything. BTW, I'm not particularly fond of Janssons in the few CDs of his I have purchased so that one would take some persuasion. The Shostakovich set on Brilliant looks very appealing for forming a novice's baseline but since I already have much Shostakovich material I'd need to see a lower price. What do you think of Barshai's work?

Underplaying the Russian elements might be a good thing. I find that Haitink's interpretations breathe and he has a great sense of the architecture of the piece, while the Russian interpretations can sound harsh, although also more exciting.
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Re: Shostakovich 4

Post by John F » Fri Mar 12, 2010 1:06 pm

I agree about Haitink's recordings for Decca/London, and #4 in particular with the LPO. It's just too inhibited, too sane, for this wild and crazy work. And Haitink's comments on the piece as slofstra reports them, seem to me very wide of the mark.

For one thing, his saying that the 4th Symphony is not a "tragic" work, suggesting that Shostakovich at that stage of his life, "a young man with energy who did not know everything that was ahead of him" (he was 30 when he finished the symphony), wouldn't have composed such a piece. Even if the composer's own life wasn't devastatingly tragic, not yet at least, so what? 1934, the year before Shostakovich began work on the 4th symphony, saw the premiere of "Lady Macbeth of Mzensk," and anyone who knows that opera at all, especially the devastating final scene, can't possibly believe the composer lacked the expressive depth or the will to compose in the tragic vein. For another, the symphony's finale is dominated by a Mahleresque death march, from the first bars right up to the long, doleful diminuendo at the end - if it's possible to telegraph one's tragic expressive intent more obviously, I can't think how.

Nor was Shostakovich's personal life all sweetness and light between September 1935 and April-May 1936, when he was composing the symphony. Things had been going badly in his marriage, with a divorce in 1935 followed by a quick remarriage when Nina Shostakovich turned out to be pregnant. About halfway through work on the symphony, on January 28, 1936, "Lady Macbeth of Mzensk" was denounced in Pravda, undoubtedly with Stalin's approval and with a hardly veiled threat of much worse then a scolding. Beyond the personal, Stalin's policies resulted in widespread famine in 1932-3, with millions starving to death, and the first of the great purges began in 1936 with show trials and executions in Moscow.

I'm not arguing that the circumstances of Shostakovich's life and the situation in his country had any direct influence on the symphony, particularly its last movement; we can't know one way or the other. But it's just not possible any longer to take it for granted that they did not. As for Haitink's "feeling and sense for Shostakovich the man," well, I probably shouldn't comment on that without hearing all of what he had to say - but I'm certainly not buying the CD and DVD to find out!

Last weekend the London Philharmonic under its current principal conductor, Vladimir Jurowski, played the 4th at Lincoln Center in a terrifically exciting, even frenzied performance that couldn't be more different from what they achieved under Haitink decades ago.
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Re: Shostakovich 4

Post by Prometheus » Fri Mar 12, 2010 1:31 pm

Thanks for suggesting this. The 4th has been one of my favorites and I also appreciate the version for two pianos that is available on Chandos.


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Re: Shostakovich 4

Post by slofstra » Fri Mar 12, 2010 1:35 pm

John F wrote:I agree about Haitink's recordings for Decca/London, and #4 in particular with the LPO. It's just too inhibited, too sane, for this wild and crazy work. And Haitink's comments on the piece as slofstra reports them, seem to me very wide of the mark.

For one thing, his saying that the 4th Symphony is not a "tragic" work, suggesting that Shostakovich at that stage of his life, "a young man with energy who did not know everything that was ahead of him" (he was 30 when he finished the symphony), wouldn't have composed such a piece. Even if the composer's own life wasn't devastatingly tragic, not yet at least, so what? 1934, the year before Shostakovich began work on the 4th symphony, saw the premiere of "Lady Macbeth of Mzensk," and anyone who knows that opera at all, especially the devastating final scene, can't possibly believe the composer lacked the expressive depth or the will to compose in the tragic vein. For another, the symphony's finale is dominated by a Mahleresque death march, from the first bars right up to the long, doleful diminuendo at the end - if it's possible to telegraph one's tragic expressive intent more obviously, I can't think how.

Nor was Shostakovich's personal life all sweetness and light between September 1935 and April-May 1936, when he was composing the symphony. Things had been going badly in his marriage, with a divorce in 1935 followed by a quick remarriage when Nina Shostakovich turned out to be pregnant. About halfway through work on the symphony, on January 28, 1936, "Lady Macbeth of Mzensk" was denounced in Pravda, undoubtedly with Stalin's approval and with a hardly veiled threat of much worse then a scolding. Beyond the personal, Stalin's policies resulted in widespread famine in 1932-3, with millions starving to death, and the first of the great purges began in 1936 with show trials and executions in Moscow.

I'm not arguing that the circumstances of Shostakovich's life and the situation in his country had any direct influence on the symphony, particularly its last movement; we can't know one way or the other. But it's just not possible any longer to take it for granted that they did not. As for Haitink's "feeling and sense for Shostakovich the man," well, I probably shouldn't comment on that without hearing all of what he had to say - but I'm certainly not buying the CD and DVD to find out!

Last weekend the London Philharmonic under its current principal conductor, Vladimir Jurowski, played the 4th at Lincoln Center in a terrifically exciting, even frenzied performance that couldn't be more different from what they achieved under Haitink decades ago.
I know all that and I'm sure Haitink would also. His comments were specifically about whether the 4th Symphony was a tragic work or not. Nothing was said by him or me about Lady MacBeth or the circumstances of the symphony's publication of which we're all aware. Clearly the first extended section of the last movement is somewhat forlorn; if you want to consider the entire work "tragic", there is an argument to be made.
One other interesting comment Haitink made about the crescendos in the finale, is that Shostakovich marked them "expressivo", which he took to mean that they shouldn't simply be played as loudly as possible. The "frenzied" approach has its place as well; I wouldn't act derisively toward either mode of interpretation, at least for as long I'm not a great conductor myself.

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Re: Shostakovich 4

Post by slofstra » Fri Mar 12, 2010 1:37 pm

Prometheus wrote:Thanks for suggesting this. The 4th has been one of my favorites and I also appreciate the version for two pianos that is available on Chandos.


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Interesting. Does it work? There are some long quiet finely nuanced passages and I would wonder if they translate to the piano.

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Re: Shostakovich 4

Post by Prometheus » Fri Mar 12, 2010 1:47 pm

slofstra wrote: Interesting. Does it work? There are some long quiet finely nuanced passages and I would wonder if they translate to the piano.
I find it to do so. The highs and lows are created well, though the orchestral version remains superior.

In listening to this version I was also better able to follow the development and return of themes and once going back to the orchestral version I appreciated the work that much more.

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Re: Shostakovich 4

Post by Chalkperson » Fri Mar 12, 2010 1:56 pm

Of all the Complete Sets that I own Haitink is my least favorite, Shosty's music really benefits from having a Russian Conductor and especially the Orchestra I think, although Benjamin Britten's reading of the 14th Symphony on BBC Live is my preferred CD of that Symphony, Barry Wordsworth on BIS is producing an outstanding series too...that completely contradicts everything I just said, of course... :wink:
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Re: Shostakovich 4

Post by moldyoldie » Fri Mar 12, 2010 2:00 pm

An exhilarating, lacerating, and sardonic Shostakovich No. 4 with most jagged edges still intact is that of Neeme Järvi and the Scottish National Orchestra on Chandos. It's not the CSO, but still.... :!:
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Re: Shostakovich 4

Post by slofstra » Fri Mar 12, 2010 2:01 pm

Prometheus wrote:
slofstra wrote: Interesting. Does it work? There are some long quiet finely nuanced passages and I would wonder if they translate to the piano.
I find it to do so. The highs and lows are created well, though the orchestral version remains superior.

In listening to this version I was also better able to follow the development and return of themes and once going back to the orchestral version I appreciated the work that much more.
Some of the Brahms "two piano" works do that for me, especially because Brahms can be such a dense weave, some would say, mushy orchestration. But anyway, I find piano transcriptions work just in the way you indicate.

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Re: Shostakovich 4

Post by slofstra » Fri Mar 12, 2010 2:03 pm

moldyoldie wrote:An exhilarating, lacerating, and sardonic Shostakovich No. 4 with most jagged edges still intact is that of Neeme Järvi and the Scottish National Orchestra on Chandos. It's not the CSO, but still.... :!:
And to be clear, the CSO version is not the LPO version. Am I correct in thinking that the Haitink/LPO/CO cycle was one of the first complete cycles? I should listen to the LPO version again also ... maybe not the whole enchilada now that I have the CSO version.

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Re: Shostakovich 4

Post by slofstra » Fri Mar 12, 2010 2:05 pm

Chalkperson wrote:Of all the Complete Sets that I own Haitink is my least favorite, Shosty's music really benefits from having a Russian Conductor and especially the Orchestra I think, although Benjamin Britten's reading of the 14th Symphony on BBC Live is my preferred CD of that Symphony, Barry Wordsworth on BIS is producing an outstanding series too...that completely contradicts everything I just said, of course... :wink:
You have a bias that way anyway, chalkie. Mravinsky, Ancerl, Kondrashin, all personal favourites, correct? Arthur Fielder, Andre Previn and Leonard Slatkin, not so much? :D

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Re: Shostakovich 4

Post by piston » Fri Mar 12, 2010 2:06 pm

It is Shostakovich's first major Mahlerian orchestral work and, as such, it's less than perfect. Shostakovich himself thought so a few decades later. I consider the fourth a transitional work, the result of many years of studying Mahler (along with his best friend, I.I. Sollertinsky). Upon completion of this work, Shostakovich had yet to master his personal Mahlerian form, if you will. Perhaps that is why there's plenty of room for a conductor's interpretation: Shostakovich himself had not fully mastered this new style.

There are at least two explanations, equally valid, as to why the work was withdraw during its Leningrad rehearsal: a. pressure by Soviet authorities on the administration of the orchestra or theatre, and; b. Shostakovich's own dissatisfaction with the outcome of his labor. Concerning the latter reason, he later stubbornly refused to make this work shorter as though he wanted to punish those who had put so much pressure on his artistic life during the 1930s. A bit like saying "Eat all of it!"
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Re: Shostakovich 4

Post by stenka razin » Fri Mar 12, 2010 2:08 pm

Let's not forget the pioneering Ormandy/Phil performance. It is coupled with a fine 10th by Sony on a great 2 CD super budget priced set. 8)


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Re: Shostakovich 4

Post by moldyoldie » Fri Mar 12, 2010 2:11 pm

slofstra wrote: Am I correct in thinking that the Haitink/LPO/CO cycle was one of the first complete cycles?
Haitink's might have been the first complete cycle recorded and released in the West. I believe Kondrashin's cycle preceded Haitink's, though I can't swear to it.
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Re: Shostakovich 4

Post by slofstra » Fri Mar 12, 2010 2:14 pm

piston wrote:It is Shostakovich's first major Mahlerian orchestral work and, as such, it's less than perfect. Shostakovich himself thought so a few decades later. I consider the fourth a transitional work, the result of many years of studying Mahler (along with his best friend, I.I. Sollertinsky). Upon completion of this work, Shostakovich had yet to master his personal Mahlerian form, if you will. Perhaps that is why there's plenty of room for a conductor's interpretation: Shostakovich himself had not fully mastered this new style.

There are at least two explanations, equally valid, as to why the work was withdraw during its Leningrad rehearsal: a. pressure by Soviet authorities on the administration of the orchestra or theatre, and; b. Shostakovich's own dissatisfaction with the outcome of his labor. Concerning the latter reason, he later stubbornly refused to make this work shorter as though he wanted to punish those who had put so much pressure on his artistic life during the 1930s. A bit like saying "Eat all of it!"
I doubt (b). However, I also doubt the interpretation that the work was suppressed because it was so incredibly subversive. In a world that is under the thumb of a tyrant, the tyrant's thumb is felt by all, but never so much as those that would aspire to greatness in their own way. If Stalin spent 5 minutes of his time a year on music, his sycophants would make sure that careers and lives would hang in the balance of that 5 minutes. So, it may be that the work was suppressed for capricious reasons, likely it was. I mean, how subversive can orchestral music be, actually. Now poetry, that can get you in very big trouble.
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Re: Shostakovich 4

Post by slofstra » Fri Mar 12, 2010 2:15 pm

moldyoldie wrote:
slofstra wrote: Am I correct in thinking that the Haitink/LPO/CO cycle was one of the first complete cycles?
Haitink's might have been the first complete cycle recorded and released in the West. I believe Kondrashin's cycle preceded Haitink's, though I can't swear to it.
As a side note, Kondrashin premiered the Fourth with the Moscow Philharmonic on December 30, 1961. The score had been thought lost, but a librarian found all the instrument parts, and the score was reconstructed. (allexperts.com).

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Re: Shostakovich 4

Post by karlhenning » Fri Mar 12, 2010 2:22 pm

piston wrote:It is Shostakovich's first major Mahlerian orchestral work and, as such, it's less than perfect. Shostakovich himself thought so a few decades later.
I think you may be conflating different eras, mon ami. At the time when it was necessary to withdraw the Fourth, Shostakovich offered vague remarks about needing to revise the ending, about the symphony supposedly "suffering from grandiosomania."

At the time of the long-delayed premiere, Kondrashin wrote:

I went to see Shostakovich. He said, 'Here on the piano is the version of the score that you have seen. As the full score was lost I've forgotten much of it. I need to look at it again to see whether the Symphony is worth performing, and whether it requires any changes'

The next day he rang me. 'Kirill Petrovich, I'd be very happy for you to perform the Symphony. No changes need to be made. The piece is very dear to me as it is.'
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Re: Shostakovich 4

Post by piston » Fri Mar 12, 2010 2:32 pm

The eternal Shostakovich dilemma, Karl. Not only do conductors disagree on the overall dramatic tone of the fourth but so do biographers and musicologists disagree about his own testimonies on the same work. But, in any case, the wikipedia entry on this topic should be revised if your interpretation is correct. See the two paragraphs under "Withdrawal":

Well, sorry about that. The url address simply does not work!
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Re: Shostakovich 4

Post by Modernistfan » Fri Mar 12, 2010 2:38 pm

I was talking about cycles that were readily available in the West. At that time, Melodiya recordings were difficult to get in any format.

I like the Ormandy as well.

Another version that might be worth consideration, if you can find it, is the Slatkin on RCA. (ArkivMusic has it in their ArkivCD burn-to-order program.) Slatkin, all of whose grandparents were born in Mother Russia (and whose great-uncle was Modest Altshuler, who gave the world premiere of Scriabin's Third Symphony in New York after he fled Russia because of the 1905-06 pogroms), should record a lot more Russian music.

By the way, Karel Ančerl is not Russian, but Czech. He was born in Tučapy in Bohemia in 1908 when that area was still part of the Hapsburg empire. He somehow survived the Terezín and Auschwitz camps and eventually became music director of the Czech Philharmonic before fleeing to Canada after the 1968 Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia. Although he was known as a strong Shostakovich conductor (and I remember his Seventh from an ancient LP that I had before I got the Bernstein New York Philharmonic Seventh), I have not heard his Fourth, but I will bet that it is excellent.

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Re: Shostakovich 4

Post by Chalkperson » Fri Mar 12, 2010 2:40 pm

slofstra wrote:
Chalkperson wrote:Of all the Complete Sets that I own Haitink is my least favorite, Shosty's music really benefits from having a Russian Conductor and especially the Orchestra I think, although Benjamin Britten's reading of the 14th Symphony on BBC Live is my preferred CD of that Symphony, Barry Wordsworth on BIS is producing an outstanding series too...that completely contradicts everything I just said, of course... :wink:
You have a bias that way anyway, chalkie. Mravinsky, Ancerl, Kondrashin, all personal favourites, correct? Arthur Fielder, Andre Previn and Leonard Slatkin, not so much? :D
Only Feidler do I absolutely dislike, I have a number of discs by both Previn and Slatkin...Previn has done some great Shostokovich discs, as have Bernstein, Jarvi, DePriest, Ormandy and even Karajan, my point was that those making superb recordings of a complete traversal of his Symphonies tend to be the Russians although I did point out my enjoyment of Wigglesworth's nearly complete cycle, I enjoy Slatkin's Prokofiev, I have heard none of his Shostakovich discs...
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Re: Shostakovich 4

Post by slofstra » Fri Mar 12, 2010 2:57 pm

Modernistfan wrote:I was talking about cycles that were readily available in the West. At that time, Melodiya recordings were difficult to get in any format.

I like the Ormandy as well.

Another version that might be worth consideration, if you can find it, is the Slatkin on RCA. (ArkivMusic has it in their ArkivCD burn-to-order program.) Slatkin, all of whose grandparents were born in Mother Russia (and whose great-uncle was Modest Altshuler, who gave the world premiere of Scriabin's Third Symphony in New York after he fled Russia because of the 1905-06 pogroms), should record a lot more Russian music.

By the way, Karel Ančerl is not Russian, but Czech. He was born in Tučapy in Bohemia in 1908 when that area was still part of the Hapsburg empire. He somehow survived the Terezín and Auschwitz camps and eventually became music director of the Czech Philharmonic before fleeing to Canada after the 1968 Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia. Although he was known as a strong Shostakovich conductor (and I remember his Seventh from an ancient LP that I had before I got the Bernstein New York Philharmonic Seventh), I have not heard his Fourth, but I will bet that it is excellent.
Ančerl's recording of the Seventh on Supraphon does have that unmistakable Russian sound though, and that's why I lumped him with the other two.

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Re: Shostakovich 4

Post by slofstra » Fri Mar 12, 2010 3:01 pm

Chalkperson wrote:
slofstra wrote:
Chalkperson wrote:Of all the Complete Sets that I own Haitink is my least favorite, Shosty's music really benefits from having a Russian Conductor and especially the Orchestra I think, although Benjamin Britten's reading of the 14th Symphony on BBC Live is my preferred CD of that Symphony, Barry Wordsworth on BIS is producing an outstanding series too...that completely contradicts everything I just said, of course... :wink:
You have a bias that way anyway, chalkie. Mravinsky, Ancerl, Kondrashin, all personal favourites, correct? Arthur Fielder, Andre Previn and Leonard Slatkin, not so much? :D
Only Feidler do I absolutely dislike, I have a number of discs by both Previn and Slatkin...Previn has done some great Shostokovich discs, as have Bernstein, Jarvi, DePriest, Ormandy and even Karajan, my point was that those making superb recordings of a complete traversal of his Symphonies tend to be the Russians although I did point out my enjoyment of Wigglesworth's nearly complete cycle, I enjoy Slatkin's Prokofiev, I have heard none of his Shostakovich discs...
Have you heard Fiedler's Shostakovich though? Did you know that Fiedler had conducted Shostakovich's Piano Concerto # 1?

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Re: Shostakovich 4

Post by Chalkperson » Fri Mar 12, 2010 3:23 pm

slofstra wrote:Have you heard Fiedler's Shostakovich though? Did you know that Fiedler had conducted Shostakovich's Piano Concerto # 1?
No, the closest I got was Fiedler's reading of Shchedrin's Carmen Suite, I can't see me purchasing his Piano Concerto disc because luckily it's not currently available, who was the unlucky pianist... :wink:
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Re: Shostakovich 4

Post by hangos » Fri Mar 12, 2010 3:28 pm

slofstra wrote:
Modernistfan wrote:I have not heard the new Chicago Haitink Shostakovich Fourth. However, I think that there are better alternatives for a cycle than the earlier Haitink Decca cycle, who, in my opinion, underplays the Russian elements of the symphonies to some extent (for a long time, though, Haitink was the only game in town for a complete cycle). You might try Jansons on EMI or Barshai on Brilliant (if you can find it). Avoid Kofman on MD&G at all costs! The new Naxos cycle with Vasily Petrenko and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra is off to a spectacular start, but so far Naxos has released only the Fifth, Ninth, and Eleventh. When that cycle is complete, it may well be the cycle of choice. In any event, you must hear these symphonies.
I have the Haitink Decca cycle, and I'm sure that there might be better ones. I would advocate not buying a cycle at all as there are so many worthwhile singles around, and varying degrees of interpretation. Buying a cycle generally implies compromise; and price would be my main determinant in buying one .. so that one does at least have one rendition of everything. BTW, I'm not particularly fond of Janssons in the few CDs of his I have purchased so that one would take some persuasion. The Shostakovich set on Brilliant looks very appealing for forming a novice's baseline but since I already have much Shostakovich material I'd need to see a lower price. What do you think of Barshai's work?
Underplaying the Russian elements might be a good thing. I find that Haitink's interpretations breathe and he has a great sense of the architecture of the piece, while the Russian interpretations can sound harsh, although also more exciting.
Henry,
I bought the Barsahai set a few years back for a mere £2.99 in a drugstore! I found the 5th a bit colourless and lacking dynamic range compared to Jarvi on Chandos, but the 4th alone is worth the cost - a blistering performance which makes Ormandy's sound too smooth despite that performance's intensity. OK, as per the old adage "You always love the first one best", I rate Barshai's 4th the highest ; I heard Gergiev's much vaunted recording on the radio and found it tepid by comparison. Barshai's orchestra is far from world class, but the bite and intensity are incredible, and the recording is certainly clear and exciting - in a word, recommended. I also like the 8th and 14th very much, but find Jarvi's 10th incomparable.
Hope this helps,
Martin

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Re: Shostakovich 4

Post by slofstra » Fri Mar 12, 2010 3:30 pm

Chalkperson wrote:
slofstra wrote:Have you heard Fiedler's Shostakovich though? Did you know that Fiedler had conducted Shostakovich's Piano Concerto # 1?
No, the closest I got was Fiedler's reading of Shchedrin's Carmen Suite, I can't see me purchasing his Piano Concerto disc because luckily it's not currently available, who was the unlucky pianist... :wink:
Uh, *clear throat* ... it was Bernd Glemser.

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Re: Shostakovich 4

Post by slofstra » Fri Mar 12, 2010 3:42 pm

Prometheus wrote:
slofstra wrote: Interesting. Does it work? There are some long quiet finely nuanced passages and I would wonder if they translate to the piano.
I find it to do so. The highs and lows are created well, though the orchestral version remains superior.

In listening to this version I was also better able to follow the development and return of themes and once going back to the orchestral version I appreciated the work that much more.
Just a footnote, I think I saw that Shostakovich wrote the 'two piano' transcription/ reduction himself. Actually, maybe that was in someone's post above, but anyway, it makes it that much more interesting.

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Re: Shostakovich 4

Post by Chalkperson » Fri Mar 12, 2010 4:04 pm

slofstra wrote:Uh, *clear throat* ... it was Bernd Glemser.
Interesting, I was listening to his recently released recording on Oehms where he mixes Bach and Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues...more interesting is that he was born in 1962 and recorded Shosty's PC1 in 2006, Arthur Fiedler had been dead for 27 years... :lol: :lol: :lol:

The Conductor was Achim Fiedler... :wink:
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Re: Shostakovich 4

Post by hangos » Fri Mar 12, 2010 4:19 pm

piston wrote:The eternal Shostakovich dilemma, Karl. Not only do conductors disagree on the overall dramatic tone of the fourth but so do biographers and musicologists disagree about his own testimonies on the same work. But, in any case, the wikipedia entry on this topic should be revised if your interpretation is correct. See the two paragraphs under "Withdrawal":

Well, sorry about that. The url address simply does not work!
I've read that Shostakovich was very impressed by his 4th on hearing Kondrashin conduct the premiere, saying something to the effect that he rated it more highly than several of his other symphonies.
Also, Otto Klemperer is said to have hailed it as a work of genius just from playing it on the piano (or listening to Shosty playing it) when he visited Shosty's home in 1935(?)
It does sprawl, but so what - for all its imperfections it's a thrilling and enthralling piece.
Martin

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Re: Shostakovich 4

Post by hangos » Fri Mar 12, 2010 4:21 pm

stenka razin wrote:Let's not forget the pioneering Ormandy/Phil performance. It is coupled with a fine 10th by Sony on a great 2 CD super budget priced set. 8)


Image
Yes, mate - I've got that set and I like it, but it's so smooooth compared to the likes of Barshai and Jarvi.
maestrob always uses "Bruckner Lite" when criticising Haitink's cycle ; perhaps I might coin "Shosty smooth"? :mrgreen:
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Re: Shostakovich 4

Post by slofstra » Fri Mar 12, 2010 4:42 pm

Chalkperson wrote:
slofstra wrote:Uh, *clear throat* ... it was Bernd Glemser.
Interesting, I was listening to his recently released recording on Oehms where he mixes Bach and Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues...more interesting is that he was born in 1962 and recorded Shosty's PC1 in 2006, Arthur Fiedler had been dead for 27 years... :lol: :lol: :lol:

The Conductor was Achim Fiedler... :wink:
Did I ever say which Fiedler, I ask you? :lol:

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Re: Shostakovich 4

Post by Donaldopato » Fri Mar 12, 2010 6:41 pm

Prometheus wrote:
slofstra wrote: Interesting. Does it work? There are some long quiet finely nuanced passages and I would wonder if they translate to the piano.
I find it to do so. The highs and lows are created well, though the orchestral version remains superior.

In listening to this version I was also better able to follow the development and return of themes and once going back to the orchestral version I appreciated the work that much more.
I had "discovered" this disc a while back and turn to it occasionally for a fresh look at this masterpiece. It works quite well frankly, just think of it as a grand two piano sonata. A listen or two to this recording does help sort out all the themes and their development, revealing the work's grand architecture.

BTW, Sony has deleted that 2 disc set with the 10th and it is only available as I can see as a pricey ($37) ArchivDisc, which is absurdly expensive.

And finally, I have to add to the admiration of the Slatkin St Louis 4th mentioned earlier. A fine recording in every way. Barshai in the Brilliant set eclipses it just barely, both are highly recommended.
Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds. - Albert Einstein

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Re: Shostakovich 4

Post by Prometheus » Fri Mar 12, 2010 7:58 pm

slofstra wrote: Just a footnote, I think I saw that Shostakovich wrote the 'two piano' transcription/ reduction himself. Actually, maybe that was in someone's post above, but anyway, it makes it that much more interesting.
My understanding of the conception was that since he withdrew the orchestral performance of the piece this arrangement was made by himself and became the way in which he performed it for his colleagues.

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Re: Shostakovich 4

Post by some guy » Fri Mar 12, 2010 8:00 pm

I don't have Kondrashin's any more (on LP), but I haven't found any that really match it. I heard Gergiev do it live once. THAT matched it.

I have Previn and Ormandy and Haitink (Decca).

But how does the Kondrashin (which was the first I ever heard, yes!) compare with some of these other people who've been mentioned? (Other than the ones I have, that is.) Or should that be, how do these other people mentioned compare with Kondrashin?
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Re: Shostakovich 4

Post by Chalkperson » Fri Mar 12, 2010 10:24 pm

Kondrashin reigns supreme, Barshai and Rozhdestvensky come close...a dark horse that is highly enjoyable is Andrei Boryeyko on Hanssler...

Rozhdestvensky is also available on a Euro Arts DVD with the BBC SO from 1978...

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Re: Shostakovich 4

Post by piston » Fri Mar 12, 2010 11:11 pm

hangos wrote:
piston wrote:The eternal Shostakovich dilemma, Karl. Not only do conductors disagree on the overall dramatic tone of the fourth but so do biographers and musicologists disagree about his own testimonies on the same work. But, in any case, the wikipedia entry on this topic should be revised if your interpretation is correct. See the two paragraphs under "Withdrawal":

Well, sorry about that. The url address simply does not work!
I've read that Shostakovich was very impressed by his 4th on hearing Kondrashin conduct the premiere, saying something to the effect that he rated it more highly than several of his other symphonies.
Also, Otto Klemperer is said to have hailed it as a work of genius just from playing it on the piano (or listening to Shosty playing it) when he visited Shosty's home in 1935(?)
It does sprawl, but so what - for all its imperfections it's a thrilling and enthralling piece.
Martin

Yes, it does. Those among us who like tight thematic structure and concision will no doubt care....
In the eyes of those lovers of perfection, a work is never finished—a word that for them has no sense—but abandoned....(Paul Valéry)

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Re: Shostakovich 4

Post by arthound » Fri Mar 12, 2010 11:22 pm

Chalkperson wrote:Kondrashin reigns supreme, Barshai and Rozhdestvensky come close...a dark horse that is highly enjoyable is Andrei Boryeyko on Hanssler...

Rozhdestvensky is also available on a Euro Arts DVD with the BBC SO from 1978...

http://www.arkivmusic.com/classical/alb ... _id=203833
Chalkie - have you heard the Kondrashin 4th on Profil? I was was wondering if it is worth getting. I agree with you about Barshai and Rozhdestvensky and would like to add Previn and Rattle into the mix -I know you are not a fan of SR but I think he does a good job with this one...

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Re: Shostakovich 4

Post by Chalkperson » Sat Mar 13, 2010 12:57 am

arthound wrote:
Chalkperson wrote:Kondrashin reigns supreme, Barshai and Rozhdestvensky come close...a dark horse that is highly enjoyable is Andrei Boryeyko on Hanssler...

Rozhdestvensky is also available on a Euro Arts DVD with the BBC SO from 1978...

http://www.arkivmusic.com/classical/alb ... _id=203833
Chalkie - have you heard the Kondrashin 4th on Profil? I was was wondering if it is worth getting. I agree with you about Barshai and Rozhdestvensky and would like to add Previn and Rattle into the mix -I know you are not a fan of SR but I think he does a good job with this one...
Previn's Chicago disc is very good, so is Wigglesworth on BIS, I have the Kondrashin, the playing is superb, there is a 15th from Dresden too...
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Re: Shostakovich 4

Post by hangos » Sat Mar 13, 2010 12:07 pm

piston wrote:
hangos wrote:
piston wrote:The eternal Shostakovich dilemma, Karl. Not only do conductors disagree on the overall dramatic tone of the fourth but so do biographers and musicologists disagree about his own testimonies on the same work. But, in any case, the wikipedia entry on this topic should be revised if your interpretation is correct. See the two paragraphs under "Withdrawal":

Well, sorry about that. The url address simply does not work!
I've read that Shostakovich was very impressed by his 4th on hearing Kondrashin conduct the premiere, saying something to the effect that he rated it more highly than several of his other symphonies.
Also, Otto Klemperer is said to have hailed it as a work of genius just from playing it on the piano (or listening to Shosty playing it) when he visited Shosty's home in 1935(?)
It does sprawl, but so what - for all its imperfections it's a thrilling and enthralling piece.
Martin

Yes, it does. Those among us who like tight thematic structure and concision will no doubt care....[/quote]

I assume you mean it does sprawl. So you must turn to his string quartets for tightness and concision

Martin

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Re: Shostakovich 4

Post by piston » Sat Mar 13, 2010 12:39 pm

Yes, I meant it does sprawl more than his subsequent symphonies, to which I frenquently turn for thematic concision....
In the eyes of those lovers of perfection, a work is never finished—a word that for them has no sense—but abandoned....(Paul Valéry)

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Re: Shostakovich 4

Post by some guy » Sat Mar 13, 2010 1:30 pm

But the themes of the fourth aren't any longer than those of any other symphony by Shostakovich. There are maybe a lot of them, leading to the overall length, but the fourth is also not significantly longer than any of the later symphonies except six and nine.

And though they are long, sprawl is a word I would never have used to describe anything by Shostakovich--or by Mahler or by Bruckner. Brian maybe. Simpson. Not Pettersson, either, come to think of it.

There's certainly nothing lethargic about the fourth. And while it does cover a lot of ground, there's no meandering about it. It seems pretty purposeful throughout to me.
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Re: Shostakovich 4

Post by hangos » Sat Mar 13, 2010 2:28 pm

some guy wrote:But the themes of the fourth aren't any longer than those of any other symphony by Shostakovich. There are maybe a lot of them, leading to the overall length, but the fourth is also not significantly longer than any of the later symphonies except six and nine.

And though they are long, sprawl is a word I would never have used to describe anything by Shostakovich--or by Mahler or by Bruckner. Brian maybe. Simpson. Not Pettersson, either, come to think of it.

There's certainly nothing lethargic about the fourth. And while it does cover a lot of ground, there's no meandering about it. It seems pretty purposeful throughout to me.
And even more incredibly so, given that Shosty apparently had the ability to compose a whole movement in his head without having to write anything down!
Martin

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Re: Shostakovich 4

Post by karlhenning » Sat Mar 13, 2010 5:02 pm

piston wrote:. . . Those among us who like tight thematic structure and concision will no doubt care....
Very well; but one of the things I enjoy about the Fourth is that it offers tight thematic structure without the concision ; )

Part of the piece's haunting power is subtle motivic resonances between widely separate sections. Which (IMO) is what holds the piece tightly together, its astonishing breadth notwithstanding.

Cheers,
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Re: Shostakovich 4

Post by maestrob » Sun Mar 14, 2010 10:00 am

Honestly, I think the two most effective performances of this symphony are by Ormandy and Kondrashin. The Kondrashin cycle on Melodiya is a must-have for any collector, known for its tightness and energy (they play for their lives!), and the Ormandy was the world premiere recording of IV, made 3 or 4 years before Kondrashin.

Another dark horse (if you can still find it) is, of all people, Myung-Whun Chung with the Philadelphia orchestra on DGG, recorded about 1996, in a stunning recording that easily matches the intensity of Ormandy (Chung is a great conductor whose career has been mostly in Europe, but his training was polished off here by none other than Jean Morel at Juilliard).

NB: Amazon is saying that the Ormandy version has been discontinued. If you don't have it, grab it from one of their used sellers before it disappears.

Image

http://www.amazon.com/Shostakovich-Symp ... 641&sr=1-1

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Re: Shostakovich 4

Post by slofstra » Sun Mar 14, 2010 4:28 pm

There's also a version with Vassily Sinaisky and the BBC Philharmonic, for the record. Don't know if it's any good, although I have it.

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Re: Shostakovich 4

Post by karlhenning » Mon Mar 15, 2010 6:24 am

When I got the Максим Дмитриевич (Maksim Dmitriyevich) box, my singleton disc of the Fourth became redundanted, of course . . . I knew to which friend I would send it (thinking it likely he would enjoy it), and there was no great reason why the sending was delayed. The same friend had lent me the Järvi/SNO account of the Opus 43 . . . and the band is top-notch, of course . . . the conducting capable enough . . . I don't at this time recall anything that was especially amiss with the character of the performance, I just remember the sound of the recording being disappointingly 'tubby'.

Anyway . . . said friend just reported, and he is most gratifyingly enthusiastic about the Максим Дмитриевич account . . . so my work is done ; )

Cheers,
~Karl
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Re: Shostakovich 4

Post by slofstra » Mon Mar 15, 2010 9:06 am

became redundanted
Is that a word? Strangely enough, I know what you mean. If it is a verb, shouldn't you then say, "was redundanted", either that or "became redundant"?
Maksim Dmitriyevich
This is Maxim Shostakovich, right? Was it a riddle? Do I get a prize? :)

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Re: Shostakovich 4

Post by karlhenning » Mon Mar 15, 2010 9:39 am

slofstra wrote:
became redundanted
Is that a word? Strangely enough, I know what you mean. If it is a verb, shouldn't you then say, "was redundanted", either that or "became redundant"?
I haven't heard anyone other than myself use it (nor am I sure it's proper to say I hear myself use it). So I shan't hazard a guess on how it ought properly to be inflected ; )
slofstra wrote:
Maksim Dmitriyevich
This is Maxim Shostakovich, right? Was it a riddle? Do I get a prize? :)
You are right (the second name in Russian is a patronymic, and so means Maxim, the son of Dmitri). You get this week's prize, a jar of pickled herring! ; )

Cheers,
~Karl
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