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Uncomfortable bedfellows

Shostakovich symphonies
Nos 1 and 12 -
compared by DAVID THOMPSON

'Praise to all departments ...'

Dmitri Shostakovich: Symphony No 1, Symphony No 12. Vakhtang Jordania © 2002 Angelok1 Classics

This disc is, I presume, intended as part of a new Shostakovich symphony cycle by the Georgian-born conductor Vakhtang Jordania. In that context, the two works featured here fit conveniently onto a single disc. In any other context, however, they are uncomfortable bedfellows, since the precocious teenage masterpiece that is the First only serves to underline the tired and uninspired rhetoric that permates the programmatic Twelfth. Older is not synonymous with wiser and greater in this instance.

Jordania uses two different orchestras, and the recordings emanate from two different venues. The Russian Federal Orchestra, used in the First Symphony, was a new name to me, and, in fact, was founded in 1993 from members of the former USSR State Symphony Orchestra, the Bolshoi Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra. The pedigree is therefore exemplary, and the sound they make is most impressive. Given an outing in native music of outstanding quality and highly imaginative orchestration, we have all the ingredients here of a sure-fire winner. It is indeed an impressive performance, full of understanding, passionate commitment and that je ne sais quoi that comes from having the resonances of native music in the bloodstream.

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Copyright © 5 January 2003 David Thompson, Eastwood, Essex, UK


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