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Shostakovich: Symphony No. 5

Shostakovich: Symphony No. 5

1 Jan 2005
3.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Shostakovich: Symphony No. 5
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Product details

  • Original Release Date: 1 Jan. 2005
  • Release Date: 1 Jan. 2005
  • Label: LSO Live
  • Copyright: (C) 2005 London Symphony Orchestra Ltd
  • Total Length: 46:58
  • Genres:
  • ASIN: B001HKXHR0
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 44,816 in Albums (See Top 100 in Albums)
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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
disappointed with the performance despite LSO and Rostapovich. The disc itself at first couldn't be read by my BOSE CD player. Tried in my computer with success, imported it to my I Pod. sounded much better through BOSE dock.
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Format: Audio CD
Strange to say, given a Russian conductor at the helm of a world class orchestra, this "LSO Live" recording by Rostropovich and the London Symphony Orchestra is not really up there with the best. The two main problems are the Barbican acoustic, which is too dry, and Rostropovich's propensity throughout for playing fast and loose with tempos.

It all starts in a surprisingly tentative manner with the first movement rather feeling its way, although Rostropovich does generate a suitably threatening atmosphere when the music turns more martial with the entry of the piano, and as a whole the first movement is much better than the scramble generated by Kondrashin and the Moscow Philharmonic in their otherwise superlative complete cycle. Amongst other front-runners - including Ancerl (in a terrific reading with the Czech Philharmonic for Supraphon in 1961), Haitink (Royal Concertgebouw, Decca) and Petrenko (Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Naxos) - I would single out Yoel Levi and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra on Telarc as superb in this movement, as indeed they are in the whole symphony.

In the spiky Scherzo Rostropovich is too galumphing and his rallentandos stretch the movement completely out of shape. Again, for me it is Levi, Ancerl, Haitink and Petrenko who stand out. Levi's tongue in cheek solo violin in the trio is the best of the lot, the pizzicato strings in the reprise of the Scherzo admirably together, though Petrenko's Liverpool players are spot on, too, and their pay off is as cheeky as any.

Rostropovich achieves beautifully controlled string playing in the slow movement, though when it comes to the woodwind again Petrenko's Liverpool players on Naxos have the edge. Rostropovich also shaves three minutes off the time taken by Petrenko, Levi and Haitink.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I rate this LSO Live release as an outstanding bargain. It preserves a first-class performance of Shostakovich's 5th Symphony played by the London Symphony Orchestra under the great Russian cellist & conductor, Mstislav Rostropovich. Most enjoyable & excellent value for money.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars 15 reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my all time favorite recordings! 12 Nov. 2006
By E Boomer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This recording impeccably expresses all of effects and affects in this work: joy, wit, fear, sadness, sarchasm, and bitter irony. Many other interpretations seem to treet this piece more as a collection of melodies, but this interpretation expresses the sinister sneering of the lower octaves of the piano in the first movement, and the epic rises and falls between trebble and bass, the infectuous fun of the second movement's dancing up and down the octaves, the brooding of the third movement, the signaling of the fanfare of the typical Beethovenian finale, the changing of tone as this falls to the sneering of the bass, and the sarchasm of the timpani in the final cadential notes of the piece, ending the piece on more of an uneasy question mark than on the forced exclamation point heard in other interpretations.

The tempo is very natural; it never feels rushed, and yet the music keeps flowing steadilly. I have 4 complete recordings of this work: this one conducted by Rostropovich, the one from the Kondrashin set, the one from the Barshai set, and the one by Bernstein that seems to get the best reviews. I am also an audiophile and have a decent system, decent enough to be dissapointed int the recording quality of many of my classical recordings - in particular, many digital recordings tend to sound irritatingly dry and glassy. This recording is among the absolute best I have in terms of sound quality; sound quality really doesn't get much better than this, it's lucious. Unless there is something faily specific you're looking for in a recording of this work, you will not be dissapointed.
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of Rostropovich's Best Recordings 30 April 2006
By John Kwok - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Acclaimed cellist and conductor Mstislav Rostropovich leads the London Symphony Orchestra in a vibrant performance that should be regarded as distinguished for the conductor's emphasis of the score's rich architecture, via somewhat slower tempi than similar recordings I have heard from the likes of Leonard Bernstein and Bernard Haitink. Still, Rostropovich manages to capture the spacious, almost Mahlerian, quality of the symphony's first movement. The symphony's second movement sounds like some crazy dance mixed with drunken waltz and march rhythms, with less than a brisk Allegretto tempo than I have heard elsewhere, but under Rostropovich's superb conducting, it still sounds quite credible. For me, the most viscerally moving movement is the symphony's third movement, a Largo which is emphasized via Rostropovich's slow tempi, accentuating the score's pathos and despair. The symphony's fourth movement is a dazzling rush of sound, with an ending that sounds most reminiscent of the final notes of Berg's Three Pieces for Orchestra. Composed in 1937, Shostakovich's 5th Symphony was his understated tribute to fellow Soviet citizens ensnared by the deadly bureaucracy of Stalin's dictatorship. Needless to say, Rostropovich has led the London Symphony Orchestra in a quite moving, dramatic performance of this symphony that has been recorded well by the LSO Live sound engineers. Indeed, without question, this splendid performance is Rostropovich's dignified musical tribute to his late friend and mentor, Dmitri Shostakovich.
23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A gorgeous, powerful performance 30 May 2005
By Autonomeus - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This is the third recording Mstislav Rostropovich has made of Shostakovich's 5th Symphony, and of the three it is the most beautiful. The LSO's musicians are superb, and Rostropovich, who knew Shostakovich and knows what the symphony is about, leads them in one of the best performances available. Why then only 4 stars? The problem is, Rostropovich is competing against himself.

His first recording with his National Symphony Orchestra of Washington D.C. in 1983 is the most powerful performance of the many I have heard. It is not beautiful, but given the nature and subject of the work, beautiful is not the most important attribute -- what it has is relentless momentum and streamlined power. It is the most complete realization of Rostropovich's vision of the 5th.

However, this live recording from July 2004 takes its place as one of the finest, along with Mravinsky, Haitink and Gergiev (see my reviews). If you have not heard the 5th, or if you are collecting superior versions, do not hesitate! So far, Rostropovich and the LSO have brought forth great Shostakovich in the LSO Live series -- their 11th Symphony is one of the finest ever (see my review).
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Royal Flemish PO, Jaap van Zweden, Shostakovich Sym 5: A surprise, fierce, layered, modernist reading 27 Mar. 2009
By drdanfee - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
If you ask listeners who are shopping for recordings of the Shostakovich Fifth Symphony - chances are, nobody would be very likely to mention this youngish Dutch conductor (Jaap van Zweden, former concertmaster of the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, appointed controversially as co-concertmaster while still a teen violinist right out of conservatory), or the Royal Flemish Philharmonic in Antwerp, Belgium.

Even putting the two together does not guarantee that spark of delayed recognition which ends up with somebody thinking, Oh yes of course, now that I think about it for a moment.

Each department of the RFPO is strong and musically committed. No dead wood anywhere among the players, as a New York acquaintance once remarked when asked how the Big Apple tended to react to the constant stream of regional orchestras, chamber music groups, and unknown soloists taking on the city concert halls in perpetual attempts to make it big time. These RFPO strings are lean and athletic, not fat and plush and upholstered. That lean and muscular string sound befits their entirely wide-awake, youthful sounding vigor. Nobody in the string sections is off ensemble - and Shostakovich serves up some very tricky passages that will challenge all the players' coordination. This reading more than most, highlights contrasting chamber music-like sections which many typical big band readings gloss over or sweep aside in their overt rush to big band brilliance and big band heft in the Shostakovich symphonies.

Woodwinds are all as reedy-woody or breathy-aloft as the symphonic moment may be. Intonation and phrasing draw utterly and intently upon their sheer physical, as well as their varied musical, essences. Whether throwing off sparkling upper, silvery lights or adding growly, uneasy fill to Shostakovich's secret discontent with Stalinist daily and artistic life - nothing weak or bad can be laid at the feet of the band's expert woodwind players. Singly and together, the woodwinds of RFPO shine, technically and musically. The surprise is the float and the shine they duly serve to bring out in this symphony, which more often collapses into sweep, drama, and a certain grim seriousness of dissent as inevitable musical prelude to a heroic triumph at the end. This composer in this work is more complicated than that rising musical trajectory, however. Everybody in the band departments plays as if he or she knows the irresistible shine and lure of life, even while coping with very dire circumstances, injustice, and loss faultlessly imposed by injustice.

The RFPO brass are also very fine. When they toot and bray, their tonal sheen is never less than commanding. This brass playing also frequently connotes a certain modernist edge, a cutting, passing visual glance of unclouded bright sunlight off one of those colossal steel and glass behemoths that prosperous world cities erect to announce business, power, and wealth. In filler and in softer moments, the brass sound no less excellent. Now, grounding the lower reaches of the woodwinds; now, pointing the phrased emphasis of the composer's sharpened, angular melodies and sharpened, angular harmonies.

Jaap van Zweden reaches new, stronger, more gripping levels of musical interpretation. He now leads a fierce and compelling Shostakovich reading, still yet finely graded in terraced levels, polyphony and musical statement. His opening is strong enough to immediately get our attention, Heads Up. Yet he leaves enough room in the aptly vigorous phrasing and opening oscillation that the motif can appear again and re-appear, its message changing and growing in profoundly ambivalent perspectives as meanings emerge in different musical contexts. If some modern novels can be said to revolve around the anti-hero, then, surely this Shostakovich symphony must be said to revolve around the transient, telling failures of western classical sonata form as a positive-balanced humanist narrative - Not always musically idealized (real and true and reasonable and triumphant), among all people, everywhere, no matter what. Our spontaneous, natural human right may connote the given potentials of our becoming free people and civilized; yet what passes for much in our iterated and reiterated rounds of so-called civilization turns out, upon later intelligent rational reflection in a later century, to have been not much more than another mean round of unfair force and mis-use, by some, of the rest.

Is this knowing refusal of the conductor and the band? - their not reaching in this reading for that very last Technicolor Panoramic ounce of typical western heroism as the symphony unfolds? -A musical fault of which we must complain? I think not, yet I still feel the touches of dis-ease left lingering with me after the last notes have died out in my listening room. This reading in no ways plays fast or loose with the composer's refusal to tie up all the injustice or loss or struggle, in a neat, tidy, unambiguously triumphant musical package that lauds an unambivalent western, heroic sonata-form by the end of his opus. Indeed, this reading seems to have aimed for a very different, UN-heroic end - from its first compelling notes. By refusing to gloss over the undercurrents of musical ambivalence, this recording reaches towards a triumph of a very different sort - most modern in its unflinching determination to look, clearly, at complications of tradition and change, honestly ambivalent.

Listeners who need for the symphony to end entirely in heroics, all positive, must look elsewhere. This reading is powerful, just because it refuses to obscure our terrible awareness that Joe Stalin is still sitting in our audiences (still ordering his secret police to knock on our doors at three in the morning). Some fans will probably be disappointed. They may like or want to like this reading for its many fine qualities; but at last some people must fail to play this disc, again and again and again as a favorite. It is too tainted, Joe Stalin and all that, asking as it were: What have you lived from surviving under Joe Stalin?

Highly recommended, this disc. But be warned: It is not for the rose-glasses-wearing faint of heart who simply must have happy endings, no matter what. Russian Disney heroes and heroines simply do not live, Happily Ever After. This Shostakovich Fifth is not, an aphorism of heroic happiness written in gilt letters and waving proudly on all the banners of certain Politically Committed public squares. Some other message more difficult, written aptly in an oblique musical and human code, its musical letters gone all terrible at moments with with sharp angles, is this Fifth Symphony by Jaap van Zweden and RFPO. This other sort of musical truth may be this disc's claim to a space some fav shelves, though hardly all. Nevertheless. This reading has qualities which would bode very well for all fifteen Shostakovich symphonies, if only this conductor and these players could bear to keep it all up, so high and so ambivalent and so unstintingly true to Shostakovich.

Highly recommended. The orchestra site says a series of symphonies by Shostakovich may be recorded. If so, this cycle could end up being one of the best and most consistent.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Jaap van Sveden's Shotstakovich 5th 17 Mar. 2014
By NUC MED TECH - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
03-17-2014 The young Dutch Conductor, Jaap van Sveden is the current music Director of this Royal Flemish Philharmonic, headquartered in Antwerp in Belgium and recording for the Naive Label. This performance of the 5th Symphony od Dimitri Shostakovich runs about 47 minutes, or about average and it is fairly routine, as van Sveden crosses all the "t's" and dots all the "i's" , offering us a good and solid performance, with no real suprises. Playing the music as it has been intended to be heard is something most conductors don't get credit foir. Critics refer to the "lack of inspiration," or their "routiness" when all they've really done is to not place themselves between the music and the listener, and to let us hear the composer himself, and what he was really saying. These are, to me, important considerations, and any maestro who carries them out, should get credit for doing his job. Should he get praised? Well, yes, since so many podium chiefs don't do these things. van Sveden seems quite content to let us hear the composer, and so am I. This performance is rather straight forward and to ther point with a suprisiongly good orchestra to work with. By the time we reach the finale, I will admit I had this ending all wrong for years, believeing it represented a sort of artistic freedom celebration. It really is the ":victory" of Leninist policy and the Socialist Order that is the winner. The composer, of course, offers this as a perjorative and most listeners have difficulty sorting it all out. Testimony, by Solomon Volkov helped right the ship and the film, based on the book, is one I highly recommend seeling and owning.
The RFP plays with zest and spirit in the dramatic opning movement and their strings sounded particualrily fine to me, especially in the lower registers. The big central climax is crowned by great persussion wirth a thrilling cymbal crash/snare drum highlighting the din. The entire percussion section is outstanding and right on the nose. One can feel and hear the rage and anger in this music, as the composer wrestles with the forces determined to silence his clever resistance. van Sveden keeps the pot boiling nicely as he swaggers towards trhe Moderato's closing, with ominous timpani pounding out the totalitarian message. Peaceful and tranquil is the close with poignant work by the lead horn and flute, these Flemish musicians play eloquently and with an accomplished touch. I was impressed.
The Allegretto is the composer's finest to date, but will be eclipsed by the scherzi in the Symphonies numbers 8, 9 and 10. It is not the menacing demonic rampage of these later efforts but rather a sunny and open air dance movement. Both the tempo and the rhythm of the playing are good and the zest from the opening of the work is repeated here. I could not detect a hint of slurring in this music, which as many conductors play it too fast, trying to emphasize the jolity of the piece, they inadvertantly mush togather some of the rapid scales of this zippy 5:23. van Svedn's pacing is just right.
The work's real heart is the gorgeous and deeply felt Largo, one of his most powerful creations, van Sveden plays it striaght from the soul, and one cannot hear this music witrhout being moved to sympathy for the composer. The climax is searing and wrenching and the recovery is soothing and consoling in van Sveden's hands. I did think, however, the closing lullaby muisic was a little too quiet and difficult to hear without tinkering with my preset volume controls, still it is truly nice. He really seems to feel this music in his heart, and conveys that to the orchestra. Beautiful!!
The Finale is a raging and rampaging movement of powerful aggression and force. The weight of the RFP is apparent in their rich and imposing brass, pushed to the hilt by the conductor. van Sveden builds this climax up slowly and with very good containment of the orchestral power lurking just below the surface. Again, as in the first movement, the persussion bursdt out with thrilling and exciting suddenness at the 09:04 point and it's off to the final page.
A well played and led Shostakovich 5th by a "young" conductor, having debuted only in 1995, and I will follow his career with interest. A nice addition to anyone's librabry. A solid and well deserved 4 stars and an equally well deserved recommendation. God bless you all, Tony.
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