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This review is from: Shostakovich - Complete Symphonies (Audio CD)
Before I begin, I have to say there is no such thing as a perfect box set. This is because no two orchestras sound the same, and no two conductors can share the same interpretations. But, as so often has been proved over the years, there have been some which have come almost near to perfection.
Mahler, Beethoven, Mozart, and now Shostakovich have all been well served by numerous box sets of CDs over the years. This one is a very fine box set indeed, and can be bought at a superb price which shouldnt be missed.
The first symphony is played very well here, with good spacious sound, Bashai maintaining a consistant tempi throughout allowing the listener to become absorbed into the music. Two and Three are not popular symphonies although they are adequatly served here. The Fourth however, one of Shostakovich's most supreme works, doesnt quite match the very fine Eugene Ormandy's Philadelphia version first recorded in 1961. That remains the definitive version, although Bashai does manage to convey a sense of tension and drama throughout the long final movement. The Fifth, and Sixth are very good indeed, although may not be to everyones taste, and perhaps might not match the now deleted Andre Previn's fine performance from 1966.
The Seventh Symphony, labelled the Leningrad is exciting, and moves along at a superb pace. But the Bernstein version does go further in its dramatic and emotional content. (This is highlighted in the closing bars of the First Movement which has been difficult to surpass since its initial recording dated from 1967 by Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic.)
As for the Eighth Symphony, (Stalingrad) Bashai excels himself here, for this is one of the best versions I have ever heard. The sound and the performance is amazing and takes ones breath away. A superb interpretation all round, Wonderful!
The rest of the symphonies are more than adequate, even taking into account some of the weakest music Shostakovich composed, such as parts of the 11th, 12th and the 13th.
Even if you already have some versions of these works such as I have, it is still a very good buy however, great price, great sound, what more could you wish for?