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Customer Review

9 August 2018
Every new reading reveals new things about Shostakovich's 4th symphony, and this one, a live performance by Andris Nelsons and the Boston Symphony, is a wonderfully executed and probing reading. I am certain I'm going to be listening to it many times as I marvel at how different the same work can sound in different hands--though maybe it shouldn't be surprising that in a work as sprawling and variegated as this, different conductors will seize on different points of emphasis and different approaches. No orchestra really exhibits better playing in this than Boston does here, and that, coupled with the exceptionally open and transparent recording, make this a marvel that holds your attention from first to last. I, however, am still struggling with characterizing Nelson's reading beyond making that observation. In the past I've enjoyed his work for its straightforwardness and its clarity, as well as its finesse and the aptness of tempos choices too (as in his disc of Stravinskiy's Firebird and Symphony of Psalms). All those elements are present here, except that in the final measures Nelsons departs from his normal straightforwardness. I've always enjoyed the deep sense of mystery in those final measures, and wished that they could somehow be stretched out further, but now that I hear Nelsons doing it, I'm not so sure. His rather drastic slowing of the tempo in the final measures does not, as one might expect, enhance the sense of mystery, but instead dissipates it, and I think it's kind of heavy-handed, interpretively speaking. Something I did not expect from Nelsons and the one and only disappointing aspect of this 4th for me. I'll get to the 11th soon...
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4.7 out of 5 stars