There seems to be little doubt that profoundly troubling influences were exerted on Shostakovich's emotions around the time he was in the process of creating this symphony, the first of his more mature large masterworks. He felt compelled, though with reluctance, to suppress this work in 1936. It did not surface for its premiere until late December, 1961. Once performed in concert, it generated all sorts of speculation. Only five years prior, the composer himself had issued some reservations about it. But I have no intention of probing further here the political and ideological aspects of the accompanying story. The main focus is this big, outspoken, abstruse and bewitching opus, and when one has the good fortune of hearing as dedicated, perceptive and exciting a performance as that served up here by Neeme Jarvi and the Scottish National Orchestra, the entire experience becomes special. This is not the first time I have encountered the "give it all it's worth " effort from this team of musical forces. (See my review of their recording of the Shostakovich Tenth.) With Jarvi at the helm, you'd better be prepared to hold tight and not let go. It should also be said that the Chandos sound engineers do a beautiful job of assisting in clearly bringing to light every aspect of this spellbinding journey. For one thing, you will be impressed with the urgency and sometimes explosive power the conductor and orchestra bring to the first movement. One can easily pick up on the influence of Mahler. Here and there, it seems as if Shostakovich is employing that composer's cloak to issue mocking musical commentary. The second movement carries Mahler's influence even further, once more intertwining it with the sometimes ominous, unpredictable elements of Shostakovich's own living environment. In the third and final movement, Jarvi deftly communicates some of the symphony's more pungent and powerful aspects, while managing to retain an air of dangerous anticipation. His complete portrayal is terribly convincing. Whether you are unfamiliar with or curious about this symphony or you have heard other interpretations of it, you owe it to yourself to listen to Jarvi and the Scottish National Orchestra. Regardless of the direction you are coming from, you should find yourself strongly impressed.