This recording is a great testament to what SACD can do.
I have always been convinced that minimalist miking is the way to go. This recording shows:
1) that a single matched pair of microphones in a classic Blumlein configuration can produce a stunningly realistic soundstage, (albeit long and thin, because of the St Petersburg Great Hall dimensions), instrument focus and dimensionalty. Bla-bla... The long and short of it, though, is that this is a stunningly realistic recording.
2) how a stereo recording, at its best, can record a holographic three-dimensional soundstage.
3) how DSD can produce a highly realistic string sound; this is particularly evidenced throughout the ravishing adagietto. I am fortunate enough to have heard the Leningrad Philharmonic (as it was) several times, and this is exactly the sort of lustrous string sound that is a signature characteristic of this great orchestra.
I could be hyper-critical, but it's not worth it. Bottom-line, this is state-of-the-art sound. It also makes me wish that other recording engineers and producers had the courage to demonstrate that 'less is more' when it comes to recording classical music properly.
So much for the sound. What's the performance like? It's good, but not great. Although I have a lot of respect for Termirkanov, he's no Barbirolli, Karajan or Abbado in this repertoire. There are some changes of gear that don't quite work, primarily in the opening two movements. But the playing throughout is infinitely more secure and controlled than the second division radio orchestra used in Kavi Alexander's other recordings in Russia. As a live performance, I am happy to give it some leeway and award 4 stars.
And the coughing? Well, it's there, but not nearly as disruptive as in the Shostakovich 7 in this series, thank goodness. Although I would like to take out and shoot the culprit during the adagietto...
Water Lily's other projects in Russia were marred, variously, by slipshod playing, second-rate orchestras and music, and saturation coughing. This is the best of the bunch, by a long way, and thoroughly recommendable.