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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Red blooded playing...
I came to this recording shortly after listening to Rostropovich's earlier version of the work with the National Symphony Orchestra of Washington (on Teldec). The differences are not as great as I would have expected; this is very much heart on sleeve Shostakovitch, and both discs give us performances played for all it's worth. The Teldec has a more spacious recording,...
Published on 21 Oct 2002 by Steve

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10 of 32 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't believe the hype
There has been a great deal of hyperbole surrounding this CD, some of it echoed by the reviews on this site. The only favourable comments I would echo concern the playing of the LSO, who perform throughout with a brooding intensity that the music scarcely merits.
The 11th was long regarded as a below par work, and was initially dismissed as "glorified film music"...
Published on 8 Sep 2003 by MR P FITTON


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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Red blooded playing..., 21 Oct 2002
By 
Steve (Leeds) - See all my reviews
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I came to this recording shortly after listening to Rostropovich's earlier version of the work with the National Symphony Orchestra of Washington (on Teldec). The differences are not as great as I would have expected; this is very much heart on sleeve Shostakovitch, and both discs give us performances played for all it's worth. The Teldec has a more spacious recording, but the LSO Live taping is technically their best so far (they record live in the Barbican Hall, London-not a very sympathetic acoustic). In the last movement, though, I think the London players have the edge in sheer,well,-power! And on the last chord, as before, Rostropovich lets the bells play on, an effect some critics don't like but I think adds to the fevered atmosphere.
An incredible bargain. (Try getting a seat for that price)!
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In short order, my favorite performance of this work., 13 Sep 2003
By 
Bob Zeidler (Charlton, MA United States) - See all my reviews
I first experienced this work many years ago, when Capitol Records (now part of EMI) released an LP set by Leopold Stokowski and the Houston Symphony Orchestra (still a favorite of mine, and presently available in well-mastered CD form from EMI). In subsequent years, I added performances by Bernard Haitink, Rudolf Barshai, and Rostropovich himself, when he had been the conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra. But it took only one hearing of this new "LSO Live" performance, with Rostropovich conducting the London Symphony Orchestra, for it to go to the top of this rather small pile of Shostakovich 11th Symphony recordings.
Shostakovich's 11th Symphony is a rather long, and very brooding, work. Ostensibly written to commemorate the 1905 Russian Revolution, its date of writing also suggests that it might contain one of his frequent "hidden messages," this one as a personal response to the Hungarian uprising and subsequent Soviet invasion of 1956. But perhaps it's best to ignore this highly-specific subtext, and simply accept the work as a more universal "commemoration to the victims of oppression everywhere."
Some Shostakovich symphonies (certainly the 1st, 5th, 8th and 10th, and perhaps the 6th and 9th) are heard in the concert hall much more frequently than this work, or for that matter, his other "war" symphony, the 7th ("Leningrad") Symphony. It follows – largely, anyway – that this work is not nearly as frequently recorded.
But, unless you are one who needs multiple versions of everything, this Rostropovich/LSO recording is likely to be the only one you'll ever need. Recorded live, it is, in a word, stunning. In fact, given its dynamic range – with much of the opening "Palace Square" Adagio performed barely above the level of a whisper – one has a hard time believing that it is in fact a live recording. Applause at the end (and surely it must have been overwhelming) has been edited out, and there is not even the smallest hint of audience noise; not a cough, not a candy-wrapper crinkling, absolutely nothing! I'm in awe just of the audience!
Rostropovich, one of Shostakovich's closest friends, understands this work (as well as the Russian themes that Shostakovich "encoded" into it) as well as anyone alive, if not better. Now, at age 75 (and several years after his National Symphony Orchestra recording), he seems to be "just hitting his stride."
The tension throughout is palpable. In the opening Adagio, and again in the 3rd movement Adagio, Rostropovich achieves the near-impossible in terms of creation of brooding intensity; the opening Adagio is nearly 4 minutes longer than those on my other versions without the slightest loss of tension. And at those points in the work where the tension does break and the full orchestral forces are "left off the leash," the LSO responds like the virtuoso orchestra it is.
Truly a performance not soon forgotten. And at the very nice "LSO Live" mid-price common to this series.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Serious Music, Serious Listening, 27 July 2011
By 
Mr. N. Hazell (Wales UK) - See all my reviews
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If you know a few symphonies of Shostakovich then you'll be aware that in the main they are not lightweight affairs: far from it in terms of orchestral forces, tonal landscaping, depth of expressiveness - everything.

This is one of the less frequently performed of his symphonic works, so you may be approaching it, as I did, with no preconceptions about how it should be played. This is good: the absence of a prior benchmark recording allows the listener to just enjoy the performance - if enjoy is the right word to use in the context of this bleak and brooding emotive megalith.

The performance and the recording are most exemplary. I would just say that this is a work that demands your attention, your respect, and your patience. It is not comfortable listening. You will probably, like me, listen to one movement at a time because it is a lot to take in, but you cannot really have any other breaks.

There is a potential problem with auditioning this CD: firstly you must have a very quiet room, because there is a lot of very, very quiet music with a wonderful, subtle, ingenious soundscape. The distraction of a ticking clock, the scratching of a dog, the buzzing of a fly - they will all be too much to bear!

And there are other sections where the whole force of the LSO is unleashed into your listening room, and THAT is too much to bear, too. Herein lies the problem. Unless you are in a position to listen to it at something like concert-hall volume, you will miss out on the detail in the quiet passages. So this recording may not be the best one for you in the context of your equipment and surroundings, unless you are prepared to keep adjusting the amplifier volume. I daresay there are some older, analogue recordings with compression and limiting applied to the dynamic range, so you can be spared some of the ups and downs of the volume control and still be aware of what is going on with the music.

Having said that, I would not trade this recording for anything, if only because it contains the most realistic percussion sounds you will ever hear. I am so pleased that I have at last discovered this work, and when the neighbours are out I shall close my eyes and be there in row 10, and in my element!

PS - I have now seen some of the other Reviews here. One person has also commented on the soft/loud issue, and has marked it down accordingly; however I cannot understand how anyone could describe the sound as "boxy" - maybe the equipment, certainly NOT the recording. Also want to add that even though it is a live recording (ie with audience at the Barbican Hall), there is, amazingly, very little interference from "noises off", and the odd pp cough has been well stifled in the mix - far less obtrusive than in a concert hall, and you might even argue that it contributes to the sense of "being there".
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Amazing bargain, 2 April 2003
This is the first Shostakovich I have ever bought, and on the strentgh of this CD I will definitely be buying more. This is also the first LSO Live CD I have bought, and it truly is a fantastic bargain.
The performance vividly brings to life the bleak nature of the work and on the whole is a perfectly judged reading which never breaks the spell created by the darkly subtle opening. The musicians shine through the average sound quality and the CD partly recreate what must have an incredible live experience, ( what CD has ever come close to the thrill of being in the same room as a full orchestra?).
Fantastic...I would have happily paid a few pounds more.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Amazing bargain, 2 April 2003
This is the first Shostakovich I have ever bought, and on the strentgh of this CD I will definitely be buying more. This is also the first LSO Live CD I have bought, and it truly is a fantastic bargain.
The performance vividly brings to life the bleak nature of the work and on the whole is a perfectly judged reading which never breaks the spell created by the darkly subtle opening. The musicians shine through the average sound quality and the CD partly recreates what must have an incredible live experience, ( what CD has ever come close to the thrill of being in the same room as a full orchestra?).
Fantastic...I would have happily paid a few pounds more.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Shostakovich Symphony #11, 12 Mar 2013
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I purchased this audio CD after having heard a performance live at the Music Hall in Aberdeen. Turned out to be a great purchase for me - I couldn't stop playing it once it arrived! Won't be everybody's cup of tea, however, but stately and atmospheric and at times exhilarating.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtfull music, 14 Feb 2013
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This symphony is so wellcomposed that I started to see my own pictures, of this 1905 revolution, in my mind.
I also felt it could have been adressed to Stalin?
Rostropovich must be a great conducter since I was carried away through the hole concert just looking at my own "movie" of this tragedy.
I sugest one takes a quiet moment to listen to it since, especialy the adagios, of the recording are very subtle.
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6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great playing - average sound, 25 Oct 2002
By A Customer
The playing on this CD is quite superb - the tension and atmosphere of a live concert comes across very well. Real bite in the brass especially, and this reading really does drag you through the emotional ringer.
The recorded sound is not quite so good - boxy and the dynamic range is so huge you have to constantly juggle with the volume control. Still, it is acceptable and at this price I would certainly recommend it.
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10 of 32 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't believe the hype, 8 Sep 2003
By 
MR P FITTON (Oldham, Manchester UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
There has been a great deal of hyperbole surrounding this CD, some of it echoed by the reviews on this site. The only favourable comments I would echo concern the playing of the LSO, who perform throughout with a brooding intensity that the music scarcely merits.
The 11th was long regarded as a below par work, and was initially dismissed as "glorified film music". You know, sometimes initial impressions ARE correct. Because for all that this is by the great Shostakovich, and concerns itself with a weighty subject matter, and for all that it is played by the mighty LSO and is conducted by the legendary Rostropovich, none of that can disguise the fact that this is simply a very poor symphony indeed.
For the truth is that much of this music is simply ponderous and vapid - the lengthy first movement sounds like a very tired Pink Floyd circa 1968 having a stab at the 1st movement of Mahler's "Titan" - and most of the rest is busy and vapid, consisting as it does of great tedious dollops of sub Mahlerian bluster. It's hard to decide which is the more uninvolving.
Not that the poor quality of the music is this CD's only handicap. Oh dearie me...the recording! At a conservative estimate 25% of this CD, including almost all of the first movement, is virtually inaudible. If you whack the volume right up you'll still struggle to hear it. If this recording was available on cassette the tape hiss (even on a good hi-fi with excellent Dolby) would drown out the music. Don't think I'm exaggerating - I'm not. I know classical sound engineers seem to be obsessed with low signal levels, but this is just ridiculous. Even at 4.99 you're likely to feel ripped off.
Shostakovich wrote several very good symphonies (eg. the 4th, the 7th through to the 10th), but in a life filled with cruel irony perhaps the most cruel irony of all is that the only truly great one, the 5th, was written largely to appease Stalin. How sad.
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