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Shostakovich: Symphonies Nos 5 & 9 Original recording reissued

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Shostakovich: Symphonies Nos 5 & 9 + Shostakovich: Symphonies Nos 1 & 3
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Product details

  • Composer: Dmitry Shostakovich
  • Audio CD (24 Mar. 2011)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Original recording reissued
  • Label: Decca
  • ASIN: B00000IP35
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 163,959 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By I. Giles HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on 4 May 2013
Format: Audio CD
These recordings reissued and re-packaged from the well-recorded originals dating from the 1980's represent very good value. The orchestral playing is of a high calibre from both orchestras and Haitink is a safe and reliable guide to these works.

The fifth symphony, as is very well known, was written by Shostakovich as his reply to 'just criticism' from the authorities. The danger that this placed him in should not be dismissed lightly and stemmed from his brooding and powerful fourth symphony among other works. This was seen as anti-authority and Shostakovich never strayed so openly down that path again. One wonders what his music would have developed into without such a threat being applied to his personal safety.

Shostakovich later suggested in his famous 'Testament' that the fifth symphony was not all light and jolly as the concluding bars may suggest and as both Previn and Bernstein deliver. There is a much more sombre and sinister alternative as explored by more recent Russian interpreters such as Sanderling, Svetlanov, Barshai and Herbig for example, all of whom make the finale a grinding commentary. Although Haitink takes the ending much slower than either Previn or Bernstein, without any of their arguably misplaced sense of jubilation there is still no real sense of grinding oppression. To some extent this entire reading is a rather sanitised account particularly when compared with some more recent accounts. Thus we have a good but essentially safe view of this work. Even Ancerl, way back in the 1960's took a more searching view of this symphony.

The ninth symphony, with its possibly enforced good humour, makes an excellent coupling to Haitink's view of the fifth.
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9 of 16 people found the following review helpful By L. Corral on 29 Dec. 2008
Format: Audio CD
Shostakovich's 5th is regarded as one of the icons of modern symphonic music. And this recording is giving the work it's proper and full performance. Having said that, there are a couple of items in the first review that I would like to comment. Shostakovich as many other composers along the history of music has been undoubtely influenced and inspired by other composers both in the past and contemporary. This is nothing new. What would be of a Mozart without Haydn or even without Leopold? Or Beethoven without Mozart? Or Schubert, Schumann and Brahms without Beethoven? And so on and on and on. Artists influence each other along a historic line but that doesn't mean that they copy each other or that they loose their identity with doing so. There are very few if any artist that starts from absolutely nothing and is therefore completely original. One could write several pages about this. But instead I recommend to hear classical music without trying to compare and judge from others, you will enjoy it much more. Try to listen to the 5th. without thinking about both political or religious tendencies. It is very possible that Shostakovich had several types of music in mind when he composed this, but it is the whole, the total approach that makes it a complete and original symphony in its own right. And the result is very good indeed.
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12 of 26 people found the following review helpful By DAVID BRYSON TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 3 July 2003
Format: Audio CD
Another in Haitink’s Shostakovich series with the Concertgebouw and the LPO, and another almost-goes-without-saying top rating. No vocals in this one, but the orchestras excellent again, the sound excellent again, the conducting the familiar model of commitment, insight and professionalism.
Which Shostakoviches do we have this time? Symphonies 5 and 9 are from either side of WWII, at the height of Stalin’s paranoia. #5 starts gloomy and ends in what one sometimes sees described as an ‘apotheosis’ in the major key, a scheme predictably traced back to Beethoven’s 5th. #9, on the strength of its first movement, is often said to recall Haydn. That seems a fair analogy to me, but the resemblance of the third movement to a Mendelssohn scherzo strikes me as being even stronger. It all leaves me with the problem I always have with Shostakovich as a musician – who was he really? The start of #5 is in what I think of as a ‘standard’ 20th century idiom. It’s powerful in its way, but taken in isolation who might have written it – Vaughan Williams? Could you even imagine failing to recognise Sibelius? Or Stravinsky, or Prokofiev? If the general scheme of the symphony owes something to Beethoven’s 5th, I for one regret that. Part of Beethoven’s legacy is that he pioneered gloominess in our musical idiom, as Shaw perceptively says. He does that magnificently, my problem is with his triumphant apotheoses, Affirmations of the Spirit of Man etc, and the end of his 5th symphony seems to me a preposterous bit of musical junk. Housman described Wordsworth’s optimism as ‘downright unpoetical’. I don’t go quite so far with its equivalent in his contemporary Beethoven – not quite so far.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 29 reviews
66 of 70 people found the following review helpful
Strong Fifth, superb Ninth 6 Feb. 2003
By Autonomeus - Published on
Format: Audio CD
I give Haitink 5 stars for the Ninth, but 4 for the Fifth. The recording and performance are marvelous. This is the only version of the Ninth I've heard so far, but it's hard to imagine a better one. I enjoy imagining Stalin and his cronies fuming when they heard this sparkling little number instead of a grand, triumphant piece of bombast to celebrate the Great Leader's war victory.

My standard for the Fifth is Rostropovich's 1983 recording with the National Symphony Orchestra. It is a brutal masterpiece, with a terrifying slow 4th movement. Haitink has more skill, a far better orchestra, and better recording quality, but I don't find his interpretation nearly as powerful. He brings out all sorts of romantic flourishes from the score which Rostropovich downplays to streamline the onward momentum. For instance in a passage in the 4th movement with strings and brass ricocheting back and forth, Haitink gives the trumpets equal weight, while Rostropovich buries them, focusing only on the strings. Of the Fifths I've heard so far, Haitink's is the second-best. I am not at all impressed with Bernstein's speedy finale -- he seems to miss the point entirely.

See my reviews of Mravinsky's 1984 recording of the Fifth, Gergiev's recent one, and Rostropovich's new one with the LSO.
52 of 55 people found the following review helpful
Haitink vs. Lenny? More like substance vs. show.... 4 Dec. 2002
By DAVID A. FLETCHER - Published on
Format: Audio CD
I'll weigh in amongst the fray debating the strengths of Haitink's "coolness" vs. Bernstein's pounding excitement, and those performances which fall into one camp vs. the other (I'm speaking of the 5th Symphony here; it looks like all revere the Haitink performance of the 9th). Without re-opening the Volkov/Shostakovich "Testimony" debate, I'll stake out a position quickly: this is not a happy piece, and performances which conclude with technicolor symphonic triumph miss the core of the work. That core is the Largo, containing some of the most pain-etched string writing that you'll ever hear. In non-musicological terms I'll put it like this: imagine a scene of utter and complete devastation, with an observer too defeated emotionally and psychologically to manage a sob. This kind of concentrated conducting and playing is not something that you run across often. Haitink accomplishes here what many of his detractors accuse him of being incapable of; it truly is magisterially heartwrenching. "Coolness," indeed.
27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
A strong entry in Decca's Shostakovich-Haitink line 9 Feb. 2004
By Christopher Culver - Published on
Format: Audio CD
This Decca disc combines two symphonies by Dmitri Shostakovich which couldn't be more different from each other: the weighty, epic Symphony No. 5, and the sly and witty Symphony No. 9. The first is performed by the Concertgebouw Orchestra and the second by the London Philharmonic, both conducted by Bernard Haitink.
The meaning of Shostakovich's 5th Symphony is controversial. It was aimed in part to please Soviet critics irked by his experiments in previous works, but there has always been speculation that under its socialist-realist surface lies a pointed jab at Communist brutes. I won't discuss the moral of the Symphony here, for in any event it depends on the authencity of TESTIMONY, Shostakovich's supposed memoirs as related to Simon Volkov. This symphony begins with a sinister opening which rapidly falls away, and from there the first three movements are mostly slow and pensive. There is some lovely string work in the second half of the third movement. The work reaches its highest point in the crashing and triumphant fourth movement, which is excellent handled by Haitink, a conductor who--in spite of his faults--has always been skillful at giving Shostakovich's loud parts the grand scale they deserve. The Symphony ends with a happy, joyful finish.
The 9th Symphony was written at the end of World War II, and most people expected a huge victory symphony after the 7th ("Leningrad") and 8th Symphonies. Instead, Shostakovich delivered a joyful little ditty which in places sounds as if it came out of a comic opera. Shostakovich doesn't praise Russia's invincible might in beating Hitler, he just expresses his happiness that things can finally get back to normal. However, a shadowy, intimidating rise suggests that normal life in the Soviet Union isn't something one would want to return to.
Both orchestras handle the material quite well. I expected this from the Concertgebouw, who have done some wonderful performances of other Shostakovich pieces (such as the jazz suites). The London Philharmonic surprised me, though I think that the Concertgebouw could have done better had it tackled the 9th.
The sound quality of this disc is generally excellent, and it won a Gramaphone award for engineering in 1978. Every item in the orchestra is well-balanced. However, the dynamic range is quite wide, so playing it a volume high enough to hear the serene parts will probably annoy your neighbours when the loud moments arrive.
All in all this is a fantastic disc, and after the 7th Symphony, it is my favourite of Decca's Shostakovich works with Haitink conducting.
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Superb interpretation and ultra superb recording 9 Jan. 2006
By M. A. Scott - Published on
Format: Audio CD
I wish that Haitink made more amazing recordings like this one of the 5th and 9th symphonies by Shostakovich. He is usually thought of as being in the top rank of conductors, but by hearing this disc, you might think that he's just about the best. Maybe the amazing sound quality kind of makes him look good, but not really, this is just a greatly played superb interpretation. The Concertgebouw (which by the way is my favorite Orchestra at the present time) are on their toes throughout this version of the 5th. They are just truly amazing here, just as they are on most occasions. Did you know that this recording won the Gramaphone top prize for it's sound engineering? That was no surprise to me! Haitink alternated between the Concertgebouw and London Philharmonic for this symphony cycle, and of course the Londoners are in really fine form also, but still not the equal (in my opinion) of this fine dutch orchestra. I've never been quite so impressed with a classical cd's sound quality, except for a few cds of the conductors Christopher Hogwood and Trevor Pinnock. I haven't heard more than 8 or 9 different versions of the 5th, but this and Semyon Bychkov's version with the BPO in 1986 are my favorites at the present time. I think the Bychkov version has almost as good sound quality, and it's severely underrated, because I've never heard the Penguin Guide or any other classical magazine rate it, which is quite crazy, because it's a bold blistering performance that does deserve very high praise. This is also one of the best 9th's out there, but that is a symphony that I have not listened to very much to this point in my life, though I plan to listen to it more very soon. Haitink pretty much can't do wrong when he's conducting Bruckner or Shostakovich, but it you haven't listened to his Bruckner or Shostakovich, do yourself a favor and buy some, because he's definitely one of the top interpreters there are. If nothing else buy this for the demonstration sound quality, and I'm sure you'll fall in love with this incredible disc. ENJOY!!!
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
The musician who came in from the cold....... 8 Mar. 2001
By Timothy Mikolay - Published on
Format: Audio CD
This recording of Shostakovich's 5th for me, is one of the most haunting, bleak and impassioned accounts in recorded music. The effects that Haitink and his Dutch players evoke from this score are as tense and terrifying as the nights many thousands of Russians had to live through during Stalin's terror. This reading, with the unrelenting horn solo in the first movement development, the sarcastic and undercutting march-like second movement, the cold and deathly stealth of the the third (the ending of this movement is simply astonishing) and the banal 'stick-beating' of the fourth produce a recording to end all recordings. I've heard the other discs but it's Haitink's pacing that seems to bring out the best of what Shostakovich intended and these intentions, musical as they may seem, have more to do with the terror and blandness of living in Stalin's time than with making musicalogical points. I enjoy the 9th on this disc, but it's the 5th I bought it for because I wore out my old London vinyl issue. A supreme and unflagging interpretation; Russian to the core!!!!
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