on 9 June 2011
The Tenth symphony is probably the most famous of Shostakovich's symphonies. Premiered shortly after Stalin died, the piece is clearly a testament to the brutality of Stalinism. The Mariinsky perfectly portrays the frantic nature of the work with energy and fervour - held together brilliantly by Valery Gergiev. The recording is balanced well with the Third symphony - the brass are triumphant throughout the Allegro and the chorus in the Third movement are incredible. All-together a brilliantly executed recording and by far the best i've heard on SACD.
In the 10th Symphony, Gergiev opts for faster than usual tempi and it pays dividends, particularly in the first movement. Backed by some first-rate playing by the Mariinsky Orchestra, this could almost become the definitive recording, but sadly the performance is let down by a poor balance, in which the timpani sounds so weak it could almost be offstage. This might sound pedantic, but it does reduce the impact of the tuttis in the first movement and makes an unwelcome distraction in what is otherwise a first-rate issue. In spite of this, I would still buy this in prefernce to many other recordings, particularly as it has the bonus of the Symphony No.3 which, although no masterpiece, gives an interesting insight into the composer's development.
on 12 June 2011
Yes, you can get good versions of these Shotakovich symphonies elsewhere at a cheaper price, but if you are a fan of the Gergiev sound then do not hesitate and buy today. The price of the CD may be relatively high, compared to some, but the price per play will be low if you are a Gergiev fan (or a fan of the Mariinsky). I am just a Shostakovich/Gergiev fan and not a musical expert, but I believe that Gergiev fans will definately not be disappointed with his unique interpretations of these two symphonies (including the famous No. 10).