15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
A good choice for novices and experienced audiophiles.,
This review is from: Shostakovich - Complete Symphonies (Audio CD)
I was introduced to the work of Dimitri Shostakovich purely by chance after hearing a small piece of his 8th Symphony in a film. I wanted to hear more of his work - and if you do too, then this set is a great place to start. It contains all of his major symphonies and Rudolf Barshai does a very good job of replicating most of the works as near as possible to how Shostakovich may have wanted them to be performed. I have compared some of the works to other recordings by different orchestras and conductors and they seem slow and lethargic in comparison. Having listened to works where Shostakovich himself has been involved in the performances, this again confirms the theory for me. There are some pieces that are relatively easy listening and others - including the choral elements, that require a bit more concentration when listening (you need to be in the mood) but voices are not used greatly when considering all the music you get. Each CD has notes to allow you to put the music into context which are helpful. Following events in Russia at the time whilst listening to the music will also add an extra perspective. As an introduction to Shostakovich, this set cannot be beaten as it is also good value for money. After a time, you will have two or three Cds that you will listen to regularly and keep the rest for that occasional break from the norm. The joy of this set is that there is enough variety there for you able to do this and not worry about buying a set that you may only ever listen to once. I can recommend this set very highly to anyone wishing to discover more works by Shostakovich without breaking the bank.
When you have tried this set, you might want to look at the composer's lighter side by listening to his jazz suite, ballet suites and film music. If you ant to get really heavy, you could try Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk - an opera based on the Shakespeare play. If you want to listen to this, it will help if you have got a copy with an English translation and have a basic knowledge of the plot of the original Macbeth play.