Can someone recommend some good recordings of Shostakovitch symphony 6?
How do you rank this symphony compared to his other symphonies?
I enjoy this work - a 20 minute largo followed by an allegro and presto totalling about 13 minutes. If you like the 9th symphony you'll like this one. My favorite is Boult with the LPO accompanied by the 9th with Sargent conducting the LSO on Everest. However, I'm not sure this CD is still available in that format. The Everest CD I've seen lately has the 6th symphony only, so it may not be worth the price. Another good performance is the recently issued Petrenko and the RLPO on Naxos. Both the 6th & 9th symphonies represent the "lighter" Shostakovitch, as opposed to the 5th, 10th & 11th symphonies for example.
Just noticed on eBay that you can get the Boult-Everest CD (6th Symphony only) for GBP 2.95 plus shipping.
Bagis, as for the Symphony itself, I love it as almost all the other 14. It's not the greatest Shostakovich, but the features of the superb composer and musician are there. Each movement has its own character and the whole work is characterised by a contemplative mood, while it ends up in expressing enough joy with the exhilarating Finale. The orchestration is impressive with an array of a great variety of percussion, used, however, very wisely.
Since I'm an audiophile and I believe Shostakovich (due to its thick and at times complex orchestration) needs the best possible recordings, I won't suggest some of the old legendary ones (Reiner, Mravinsky, etc), but the more modern and quite well recorded CDs or SACDs. Apart from Petrenko, which rightly Bliss suggested, I could recommend Kurt Sunderling with Berlin-Sinfonie Orchester, on a very bright and powerful recording of Berlin Classics and a much more recent one: Vladimir Jurowski and the Russian National Orchestra, in a superb SACD recording of Pentatone. In both cases, the fill-up is the 1st Symphony.
However, in terms of the best possible sound, the (expensive) box of the complete Symphonies on Cappricio, with Kitajenko, is incredibly amazing. You can enjoy listening to every possible detail of these complex and great scores.
The 6th and 9th symphonies by Shostakovich are absolute gems. Jansons has both coupled on an EMI CD, now deleated but can be picked up on Amazon etc. Reiner (deleated) is also excellent. Avoid Previn in Shostakovich and Jarvi doesn't quite get the humour of the 6th. The 1st, 4th and the 15th are also excellent. Put them alongside the 5th, 8th and 10th symphonies, but avoid the 3rd, 7th, 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th. (the 2nd is interesting, just not sure in a musical sense)
Probably if I could keep one recording it would be Mravinsky's (c. early 70s recording that I have on both BMG/Melodiya and Praga CDs, though not quite sure if these are one and the same, because from what I've read Praga may have faked some of their Mravinsky CDs).
Other versions I like are Jansons, Kondrashin and Bernstein (NYPO)(I also don't mind his more extreme VPO version, despite the rather ridiculous comments he makes on the DVD along the lines that by performing this he is putting right a great wrong that this work is never played!)
Alice, don't go to the extreme, again. If you wish, you may avoid whatever you don't like, approve or whatever, but you cannot suggest that Symphonies, which have been established themselves in the repertory and in the History of Symphonic Music, are to be avoided. Some of the ones you mentioned have reached the level of the monumental (7th, 14th), and some at the very high level of the memorable ones (11th, 13th).
Contrary to his String Quartets, which look alike to a great extent, his Symphonies are like separate "pictures" of his life and his musicianship, full of different colours, shades, riddles and multiple layers of musical writing and manifestation.
My 6 is a Haitink vinyl boxed set with the 11th/Concertgebouw. The 6th is maybe one of the underrated ones in the series, a bit curiously lop-sided with the structure of the long slow movement followed by the two faster ones, but a damn fine work...
Parla, I love Shostakovich, but the 11th is film music (for a poor film) and the 7th is pop music. Bartok said everything that needed to be said about the 7th.
Thanks everybody for your kind input.There are really a lot of choices. I will check out Boult for a start. He is a very fine conductor. Thanks to Spotify I shall also listen to Sanderling, a conductor I greatly admire. Haitink is also very good.Have heard him live in Shostakovich 5 many, many years ago. I really didn´t realize there were so many recordings of this symphony.Wonderful! There´s still hope for classical music!
Alice, just for the record: The 11th is a great "film" score (without the film, anyway). We have witnessed plenty of superb film music in the history of this business. Immediacy and simplicity, if combined with great and complex orchestration along with an extended form, are not disadvantages but the opposite. I have attended this Symphony in a live performance with the Atlanta S.O. under the late Kreizberg; it was one of the most memorable concerts I have ever witnessed. However, the amazing thing was that an american audience was moved and stood in awe as well.
The 7th, if it's pop, then, let the pop culture to celebrate: a very large scale 70 minute long complex, heavily orchestrated symphonic work is a bit too much even for the pop world. Of course, I admit it's somehow difficult to appreciate the inner character of the music, the broad narrative or the overly expressed emotions. If Symphonic coherence or craftsmanship are the goals, yes, maybe the 7th is not the best example. However, its emotional and direct musical tone is evident and direct to people much beyond Russia.
As for Bartok, with all due respect, before he "spoke" or quoted and alluded (the march theme of the First movement of Shostakovich's 7th in his Intermezzo of his Concerto for Orchestra), he had to consider he didn't wrote even one proper Symphony.
Reiner, a personal favourite, is available on Spotify along with many other versions.
The symphony 7 (listening to now for the first time) reminds me of Mahler.
'After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music'.
Aldous Huxley brainyquote.com
Have you got to the joke yet.
An interesting work but one which leaves me questioning as I find it does not reach a satisfactory conclusion as its two adjacent numbers.
I have generally thought that it needs a Soviet era orchestra with their sometimes raw sound and blaring brass to bring out the best in Shostakovich but I must thank Bliss for getting me to unwrap the Boult Everest disc which had been in a pile gathering dust for some time. I don't recall hearing Boult conduct Shostakovich before but as almost invariably with him it is a splendid, vital and powerful performance. As for Parla demanding an "audiophile" recording I find Everest's sound quite spectacular irrespective of its age.
The only complaint is why issue a 33 min CD with no coupling? Still worth it though.
Glad you enjoyed Boult's performance. I have no idea what the current license holder of Everest recordings is thinking, issuing such short CDs. The original CD release, as I mentioned above, also contained the 9th Symphony. It was issued by the Omega Record Group in New York City. Among other Everest recordings in their catalouge was the Hindemith Symphony with Boult and the LPO and, on the same CD, the Violin Concerto by Hindemith with Joseph Fuchs and the LSO conducted by Goossens. The current CD available has just the Symphony, a 30 muinute CD.
Speaking of Boult and Shostakovich, in 1962 he was asked to conduct the BBC Symphony in a concert at the RFH. The BBC picked the program: VW's Tallis Fantasia, Beethoven's 4th Symphony, Bach's Double Violin Concerto, and Elgar's Falstaff. He refused, telling the BBC it was nothing but a list of pieces they couldn't persuade other conductors to do. He won the contest and on November 28th gave the first London performance (and probably only the second performance outside of Russia - the first was at the Edinburgh Festival a few months before) of Shostakovich's 12th Symphony. The other works on the programme were Beethoven's 8th Symphony and Bach's Third Brandenburg Concerto. This info is from Michael Kennedy's biography of Boult. I happened to find a CD of the Shostakovich on The Classical Society label (made in Italy). While I have never heard another performance of this work I find Boult's reading to be, using your words, "splendid, vital and powerful." The CD also has a live performance of the Serenade No. 1 by Brahms with the BBC Symphony. I have not been able to trace the date or venue of that one, but I like his EMI studio recording a little better.
Thanks the additional info, Bliss, I must find out if Michael Kennedy's book is still in print. One of the current Everests not to get is Boult's VW Job. On my copy there are breaks in the continuous music at the CD index points.
Some years ago I got hold of a few Everests on limited edition LPs made from the original 3 track masters and the two recorded in UK at Wathamstow (Copland & Gould) are particularly good.
You probably know Decca included the Everest VW ninth in their Boult VW symphony box in which he gives a short introduction stating VW had just died, and then goes on to give a blazing performance.
33lp - Even if you do find the Everest CD of Job issued by the Omega Record Group the sound is problematical. It was recorded, for some reason, at the RAH and the engineer failed to get the balance right. It's a fine performance but the brass dominates more than it should. The original Everest CD also has the overture to The Wasps conducted by Boult and Arnold's Four Scottish Dances conducted by the composer. The Wasps overture is not an Everest recording but sounds to me like Boult's last EMI recording, altho no credit as such is given.
While on the subject of Job, and I think I mentioned this in another post some months ago, my favorite Boult performance is the one he gave at the VW Centennial Concert at the RFH on October 12, 1972. It was issued on an Intaglio CD along with On Wenlock Edge from the same concert. The sound is excellent. The timpani in Job especially stands out. The other work on the concert was the 8th Symphony and that, along with Job, has been issued on a DVD by ICA Classics. I prefer the sound on the Intaglio but that is no doubt due to better playback equipment.
Yes, I do have the Everest VW 9th on both Everest and Decca. Actually there are very few of Boult's recordings that I don't have. Back in the 1940's I purchased Boult's 78 of the Fingal's Cave Overture and that started it all!!