Shostakovich: Symphony No. 8
 
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Shostakovich: Symphony No. 8

Mstislav Rostropovich, London Symphony Orchestra, Dmitri Shostakovich
6 Jun 2005

£7.49 (VAT included if applicable)
Song Title
Time
Popularity  
1
Symphony No. 8 in C minor, Op. 65: I. Adagio - Allegro non troppo
26:34
2
Symphony No. 8 in C minor, Op. 65: II. Allegretto
6:46
3
Symphony No. 8 in C minor, Op. 65: III. Allegro non troppo
7:07
4
Symphony No. 8 in C minor, Op. 65: IV. Largo
12:01
5
Symphony No. 8 in C minor, Op. 65: V. Allegretto
16:16


Product details

  • Original Release Date: 6 Jun 2005
  • Label: LSO Live
  • Copyright: 2005 London Symphony Orchestra Ltd
  • Total Length: 1:08:44
  • Genres:
  • ASIN: B001L8UV36
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 110,936 in MP3 Albums (See Top 100 in MP3 Albums)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars HEARTFELT AND PERSONAL LIVE PERFORMANCE 9 May 2007
By Klingsor Tristan VINE VOICE
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
There's a lot of strength to the argument that this is the finest of all Shostakovich's symphonies (No.10 is probably the only real rival). Certainly it is the best of the wartime group. No.7 is a bit too blatant (Bartok had a point about the big build-up tune in the first movement and the Finale thumps the tub a bit hard). And No.9 is a strange animal, fascinating in its ironic and perverse way, but curiously not of its time. No.8 on the other hand is profound both as music qua music and as a deeply Russian take on humanity under extremes.

Rostropovich and the LSO play it in this live performance for all its worth - which is a great deal. In all his friend's symphonies, Slava seems to have little truck with all the arguments about political meanings in these works (are they toeing a party line, are they subverting it, are they providing musical portraits of the politburo, etc.?). He plays them as he played all great music - on their own terms but with the utmost expression he can invest them with.

This Eighth is a great performance. The opening movement's sonata-form arguments have seldom been laid out so forcefully; the interrelationships between the introduction's dark, brooding material, the jagged first-subject and the lonely second subject with its lovely pendant rising motif with its drop of a fifth at the end (usually on violins) are all argued through, combined together and manipulated with refreshing clarity. Rostropovich takes note of the non troppo part of the Allegro marking throughout this movement. But there is no short-changing of the emotional content either - witness the huge and overwhelming discords of the climax (shades of Mahler's 10th?).
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Maybe not perfect, but very deeply felt 1 Jan 2011
By DMH TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
I was fortunate to be present at this concert at the Barbican in London and still remember the way that Rostropovich put the audience under his spell. This may not be the perfect performance of this massive work but Rostropovich's searing commitment is never in doubt. He takes more risks with the musical structure than some other conductors but taken as a whole the interpretation "works". I'd not be without a Mravinsky reading of the 8th Symphony (his Philips reading is perhaps the best, but the other Leningrad reading on Regis comes very close) but Rostropovich's intensity is not to be missed either.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format:Audio CD
Challenging and rewarding are the two attributes that come to mind here.
I'm still learning my way in these waters so I can't get too technical but I got what I wanted which was emotion, scale, intensity and a feel for the epic. It's a symphony with a few twists & turns, menacing build ups & violent climaxes - which (as a Rock/Metal fan) is right in my court!
I particularly noticed a lot of very loud, intense percussion which is quite fitting as I believe this symphony to have a World War 2 based theme. Certainly the militaristic passages are there along with the horror & reflection of the great conflict.
Sound quality is excellent, absoluteley perfect - and the CD comes with detailed liner notes, essential for the novice cum scholar like me!
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Russian 14 Dec 2011
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
I have been trying to work out what makes a Russian performance different to a western one. I may have spotted it as being the rich lower base strings are not trying to accompany anything. In the versions I like there are two levels of sound and they are separate. the higher registers are the Russian winters and they play against the lower registers. They do not mix. As I listen to this performance I can easily forget the base strings which do not have such a cloying warmth. Maybe this is what another reviewer referred to as a weakness. I disagree.
How can you realisticly have closeted reverberation in the great outsides? Rostropovich is truly Russian and not of the western drawing room kind
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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Taken too slowly, power and coherence are lost 26 Aug 2005
By Autonomeus - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Mstislav Rostropovich knows the power of slowing the tempo. He has consistently used it to convey the false triumph, the horror, of the finale of Shostakovich's 5th Symphony -- his DG recording with the National Symphony Orchestra, now out of print, is my choice for the best 5th of all time. To take another (in)famous example, Celibidache has been roundly criticized for his exaggeratedly slow tempos in Bruckner, but this produces, in the live recording of Bruckner's 8th with Celibidache leading the Munich Philharmonic, a unique and incredibly powerful performance. Clearly there is nothing inherently wrong with a slower tempo, as Rostropovich showed with his earlier LSO recording of Shostakovich's 11th Symphony (see my review).

Unfortunately, it doesn't always work. And despite the beautiful and precise performance by the LSO and another superb LSO Live recording of the November 2004 concert at the Barbican, this 8th drags and fails to capture the drama, energy, intensity, fear, panic, and horror of war that makes it the Guernica of 20th century music and one of Shostakovich's most powerful symphonies. Listening to this recording, you wouldn't know that it is one of the best and most powerful compositions of the 20th century!

The time for this performance is 68'45". By contrast, Rostropovich's 1991 recording with his National Symphony Orchestra on Teldec ran just over 61' (see my review), slightly faster than Haitink's powerful 62' 1982 recording on Decca (see my review). Solti's 1989 recording with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on Decca, now out-of-print, my choice for the best 8th, also runs 62'.

The most serious problem with this Rostropovich/LSO performance comes with the second and third movements, the Allegretto and the Allegro non troppo. These are the movements that convey the utter horror of war, if they are played properly. Solti nails them, and Haitink takes them just slightly too insanely fast, which still works. But -- my apologies to Rostropovich, who knew Shostakovich personally and claims unique insight into the composer's intentions -- he does not create the taut forward drive and momentum to bring this mighty symphony to life. The fast movements were the fatal flaw in his otherwise excellent Teldec recording, and now with the LSO, the outcome is even worse. There are beatiful *passages* to be found within, but the overall story is lost, and with it the meaning.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars INTENSE AND PERSONAL LIVE PERFORMANCE 9 May 2007
By Klingsor Tristan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
There's a lot of strength to the argument that this is the finest of all Shostakovich's symphonies (No.10 is probably the only real rival). Certainly it is the best of the wartime group. No.7 is a bit too blatant (Bartok had a point about the big build-up tune in the first movement and the Finale thumps the tub a bit hard). And No.9 is a strange animal, fascinating in its ironic and perverse way, but curiously not of its time. No.8 on the other hand is profound both as music qua music and as a deeply Russian take on humanity under extremes.

Rostropovich and the LSO play it in this live performance for all its worth - which is a great deal. In all his friend's symphonies, Slava seems to have little truck with all the arguments about political meanings in these works (are they toeing a party line, are they subverting it, are they providing musical portraits of the politburo, etc.?). He plays them as he played all great music - on their own terms but with the utmost expression he can invest them with.

This Eighth is a great performance. The opening movement's sonata-form arguments have seldom been laid out so forcefully; the interrelationships between the introduction's dark, brooding material, the jagged first-subject and the lonely second subject with its lovely pendant rising motif with its drop of a fifth at the end (usually on violins) are all argued through, combined together and manipulated with refreshing clarity. Rostropovich takes note of the non troppo part of the Allegro marking throughout this movement. But there is no short-changing of the emotional content either - witness the huge and overwhelming discords of the climax (shades of Mahler's 10th?).

The allegretto here strikes the ideal balance between charm and bitter irony that is so characteristic of the composer. And Rostropovich has certainly noticed that there are no changes of tempo marked anywhere in the score of the scherzo: observing the non troppo marking instruction again, his tempo is more deliberate than most and he sustains it throughout, including the trio, to great effect. This becomes a far more insistent, unrelenting, numbing experience than that equivalent part of the Seventh's first movement.

And then the Largo is a real descent into Hell. After those huge dissonant chords from the first movement have revealed their true nature, this music becomes as black and as frozen as can be. This is the true, though intimidating, heart of the symphony. And the miraculous cadence into the daylight of the Finale's opening is perfectly realised.

Slava carries the LSO with him all the way in this heartfelt and personal performance. Playing throughout is of a very high order, but the woodwind must be singled out for particular praise - especially the cor anglais and the clarinet. The only shortcoming I can find - and it is a minor one - is that the acoustic of the Barbican Hall is less than ideal. The big climaxes (which are huge in this performance) lack a little of the weight they need sonically and those soul-chilling lonely moments, particularly in the Largo, end up a bit too close and dry; they need more distance, more ambience around them to achieve their full effect. Nevertheless, this is a great performance of a profound symphony, admirably recorded and at a staggeringly low price. Snap it up.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a bitter and devastating performance 20 Aug 2006
By Raymond Rice - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
I suppose I can understand some of the negative or lukewarm responses to this recent recording by the great Rostropovich and the London Symphony. But I can't agree with them. Simply put, the first movement is devastating, and its final five minutes are played better than I have ever heard. The second movement plays like a bitter mockery of a march (as opposed to the more conventional recordings out there that make it seem more heroic than tragic); similarly slowed from its conventional frenetic pace (it's marked "allegretto" after all!), the perpetuum mobile of the third movement has never seemed more horrific. The excruciating crescendo is perfectly played (and the technical aspects of the recording are equally exquisite); Rostropovich even plays the fourth movement as marked--Largo--rather than a rather desultory adagio as so many others--and the result is heartrending. (Perhaps he wishes to proleptically evoke echoes of Shostakovich's late masterpiece, his String Quartet No. 15.) The final movement, one which I have long struggled with, coalesces nicely under Rostropovich's guidance-- the final coda, so often sloughed off as "ambivalent" by critics, comes across as much more elegiac, as if Shostakovich is allowing his audiences that sigh of relief now that the immediate danger has passed (destruction at the hands of the Nazis), but also reminding them (sadly) that no lasting peace, no hopeful conclusion, can truly be reached. The violin's eerie danse macabre in the final minutes seems truly a spectre of death haunting the quiescent landscape (terrorized by the reality of death of nearly an hour!), leading the listener to a conclusion without a resolution... In my humble opinion, this is truly a great recording (and at an affordable price).
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the most profound 8th 30 April 2007
By M. Zhao - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
I don't agree with thoes people who thinks the fast tempo in this symphony is the only correct way to go.

According to Shostakovich, this symphony is not only about the descriptions and feelings on that specific war, but also, more important, the common experiences and thoughts of all human beings. Beyond the flammes, smokes, ruins and bodies, there is the most sincere and deep soul.
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