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Symphony No 10 -
chosen by

'... the results are very special.'

Shostakovich: Symphony No 10 in E minor Op 93. © 2006 Melba Recordings

After more than forty years of music criticism and reviews I've never veered from the view that some of the most outright, vital and passionate performances I have been privileged to witness involved youth orchestras. In many instances emerging talents, coming fresh to the repertoire, have a commitment and degree of purpose that's hard to match. Thus it proves with the Australian Youth Orchestra (founded 1957) in this live Sydney concert.

Add to this Melba Recordings' insistence on sonic excellence, authoritative notes, unsurpassed illustrations, quality packaging and the crème de la crème among Australian music students -- no wonder the results are very special.

I chanced upon a recent review with adverse comments on Sydney Opera House acoustics. Personally I had no problem with the sound on this release. Far from it.

Shostakovitch's 10th Symphony (1951/53), his most popular, after No 5, is no easy work to tackle with true success. However Melba's planners resolved to celebrate the Anniversary of Dmitrij Dmitrievich Shostakovich's birth in St Peterburg on 25 September 1906.

For this notable occasion the AYO was directed by peripatetic musician, Alexander Anissimov; currently Conductor Emeritus of the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, Ireland, Principal Conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra of Belarus, Principal Conductor of Opera Rostov-on-Don, an Honoured Artist of Russia and since 2005, Principal Conductor of Busan Philharmonic, Korea.

Shostakovitch's extended opening Moderato [listen -- track 1, 0:02-1:37], in sonata form, begins with a whisper; from which the Australian players proceed with breadth, somber intensity and purposeful dignity. The youngsters have seemingly taken distressing post-Stalinist echoes to heart and the unyielding movement unfolds with inexorable menace and power.

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Copyright © 20 January 2008 Howard Smith, Masterton, New Zealand


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