Title - Shostakovich Under Stalin's Shadow: Sym Nos. 6 & 7
Artist - Andris Nelsons / Boston Symphony Orchestra
For those not in the know, Andris Nelsons (born 18 November 1978) is a Latvian conductor.
Indeed, he is currently the music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Gewandhauskapellmeister of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra.
The Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO) is an American orchestra based in Boston, Massachusetts. It is one of the five major American symphony orchestras commonly referred to as the "Big Five".
Founded in 1881, the BSO plays most of its concerts at Boston's Symphony Hall and in the summer performs at Tanglewood. Bernard Haitink currently holds the title of conductor emeritus of the BSO, and Seiji Ozawa has the title of BSO music director laureate.
In their inaugural release on Deutsche Grammophon, the Boston Symphony Orchestra and its Music Director Andris Nelsons were heard in live performances of Dmitri Shostakovich's Symphony No. 10 and the Passacaglia from his opera "Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk."
This disc was the first in a series of five live-performance CDs entitled Shostakovich Under Stalin's Shadow, to encompass the composer's symphonies 5-10 and other works written in the period from the mid-1930s; when Shostakovich fell from Stalin's favor, to 1953, the year of the dictator's death.
And so, after the highly successful SYMPHONY NO. 10 in 2015, the sheer expressive beauty of SYMPHONIES NOS. 5, 8, 9 from 2016, and the overbearing vividness of the most recent SYMPHONIES NOS. 4 & 11, Nelsons and the BSO continue the Grammy-winning cycle with SYMPHONIES NOS. 6 & 7.
Here on this wondrous 2CD set, the symphonies are complemented by two other works by Shostakovich, the Suite from the Incidental Music to King Lear, Op. 58a and the Festive Overture, Op. 96.
1-3 Symphony No. 6 in B minor, Op. 54
4-14 Suite from the incidental music to "King Lear" op. 58a
15 "Festive Overture" op. 96
1-4 Symphony No. 7 in C major "Leningrad" op. 60
As all fans of this music and of Nelsons himself, of course, can all ready attest to, his Shostakovich Under Stalin's Shadow works with the BSO are, one and all, simply incredible.
The tones of strings and woodwind principals together with the crucial climaxes have punch as well as the right pulling out or back to articulate the centers of their exquisitely crafted gravities.
Once again, Nelsons has taken charge of Americas most cultured orchestra and, given recording of unparalleled naturalness, height and depth. In truth, this latest 2CD set sounds absolutely wonderful and I honestly don't know how it could have sounded any better under anybody else's direction.
Indeed, and furthermore, you are there, under the shadow, lurking in the shadows created by Nelsons and the BSO. And yet there is humor and mirth that struggles for the light against the great suffering and struggle.
The playing and phrasing are immaculate. Soft passages are played with almost inaudible precision. As intended. There are also great moments of orchestrated momentum yet also marvelous reflection within them.
Assured conducting and virtuosity on display means that Shostakovich Under Stalin's Shadow: Symphonies Nos. 6 & 7 is yet another fine entry; and one that might well have you clapping and shouting your approval of once the second disc has concluded.
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