Here's a great example of why I pay far more attention to Amazon's readers' reviews these days than those of the self-styled experts in the music press.
I've known, and loved, the Rostropovich recording of this work for years, but hesitated to buy this DVD after reading a dismissive review in the Gramophone. Then I read some favourable readers' reviews on the various Amazon websites and took the plunge.
Musically and visually, this is a superb performance. Acting, singing, staging are all spot on. Christopher Ventris and Nadine Secunde in the leading roles look exactly right and are completely inside their roles, Secunde the neglected, frustrated and bored wife of a rich man, Ventris the incurable skirt-chaser. Anatoli Kotcherga is brilliant as the coarse, boorish father-in-law of Katerina, a tour-de-force of a performance. Amongst the lesser roles Graham Clark as the Shabby Peasant and Juha Kotilainen as the Chief of Police deserve special mention for both their singing and acting, and of course there's Yevgeny Nesterenko in the cameo part of the Old Convict, thunderous of voice if somewhat underpowered in the acting department.
This ending, with Katerina staring into the auditorium stunned with misery, isn't quite what Shostakovich had in mind but it works beautifully and you're in no doubt as to what her next action will be as the curtain drops. Throughout the opera, Anissimov and the Orchestra of the Gran Teatre del Liceu play magnificently, giving us that authentic, spectral, Shostakovich sound, ably abetted by a strong chorus. Staging is representative rather than realistic, and very thought-provoking. I love what's been done with the interludes, on-stage mimes highlighting and commenting on the action.
I have not seen the Jansons dvd, which also features Ventris in the role of Sergey, but I hear the choice between it and this one is a question of hair-splitting. Either way you should get to know this masterpiece of an opera.