Although I have been an ardent Shostite since first hearing the opening lines of the Symphony no.4 when a teenager in the early 60s, I must admit that I have had a hard time stomaching the Leningrad. It has really tested my loyalty and Toscanini's later renunciation and Bartok's ridicule of it in his Concerto for Orchestra have given me a hard time. I have given sympathetic hearing to various renderings of it without coming to terms with it. That bolero cover version with Lehar's 'Da geh ich zu Maxim' theme could make my toes curl. Was that the coming of war? Doesn't sound so to me. However, Shosti was there, I wasn't (but then again the author of War and Peace was born years after the Napoleonic wars) After hearing Gergiev, though, I am finally converted. He knows that there are more strings than violins and it gives depth. This is a full bodied orchestra! It has certain operatic qualities, as well. Very strange. As if there are human voices and stories hidden in the work which he brings out. So it doesn't matter that he is so slow at times (although the thumb of rule for long symphonies is not to brood). Gergiev feels close to this work (made authentic by his humming through parts of it!), and it is about time that the Russian orchestras play some Shostakovitsh.