SHOSTAKOVICH: Symphony No. 1 in F minor, Op. 10.
Symphony No. 2 n B flat, Op. 14 "To October." Symphony No.
3 in E flat, Op. 20 "First of May."
Symphony No. 4 in C minor, Op. 43, SymphonyNo.. 5 in D minor, Op.
47. Symphony No. 6 in B minor, Op. 54. Symphony No. 7 in C, Op. 60 "Leningrad."
Symphony No. 8 in C minor, Op. 65. Symphony No. 9 in E flat, Op. 70.
Symphony No. 10 in E minor, Op. 93. Symphony No. 11 in G minor, Op. 103
"The Year 1905." Symphony No. 12 in D minor, Op. 112 "To
the Memory of Lenin - 1917." Symphony No. 13 in B flat minor, Op.
113 "Babi Yar." Symphony
No. 14 in G ,minor, Op; 135. Symphony No. 15 in A, Op.141. Piano Concerto
No. 1 in C minor, Op. 35. Piano Concerto No. 2 in F, Op. 102. Violin
Concerto No. 1 in A minor, Op. 77. Violin çoncerto No. 2 in C
sharp minor, Op. 129. Cello Concerto No. 1 in E flat, Op. 107. Cello
2 in G, Op. 126.
This is a remarkable video document—all fifteen Shostakovich symphonies and all of his concertos in powerful performances magnificently played by a superb orchestra and a conductor long identified with the repertory. And all have been filmed with state-of-the-art video and audio technology (although the producer's choices are sometimes questionable). All performances took place over a period of a year in Salle Pleyel in Paris. Gergiev is an ideal conductor for this project, and the superb Russian orchestra responds energetically, each musician a virtuoso indeed. It seems that these are the conductors first recordings of symphonies 12 and 15. We have numerous opportunities to watch him conduct and observe his unusual style with his constantly fluttering hands, but the orchestra obviously knows what he wants. Video is excellent if a bit odd. It is obvious the video director knew the scores very well and invariably there are close ups of solo instruments (but none, oddly, on the bells at the end of Symphony No. 11). Camera angles are sometimes askew changing the image of some instruments. The audio engineers did a fine job, but they have smoothed out the dynamic range with little contract between the composer's massive outbursts of sound and the many soft passages. I don't object to this, but balance is not natural, and what we hear is a big, rich wash of sound, impressive in its own way.
All of the soloists are perfection, Danill Trifonov and Denis Matsuev give dazzling performances of the piano concertos, the audience insisted on an encore from the latter, Rachaninoff's Prelude in G minor. Vadin Repin, Alena Baeva, Gautier Capuçon and Mario Brunelio are masters of their instruments and give impassioned readings, and we have many opportunities to watch their virtuosity up close. Of course the vocal soloists are idiomatic and totally secure.
The four DVDs are in a box with a 150 page booklet with notes in English, French and German, in print so small most will find it difficult to read. There also are a number of photographs but no texts for vocal works—there are subtitles with that information. Gergev discusses each work before the performance; it is possible to program the DVDs to eliminate these.
This is an mportant issue in spite of its shortcomings. It is unfortunate it is premium-priced.
R.E.B. (June 205)