Magazine article Gramophone

Shostakovich: Symphony No 8, Op 65

Magazine article Gramophone

Shostakovich: Symphony No 8, Op 65

Article excerpt

Shostakovich

Symphony No 8, Op 65

SWR Radio Symphony Orchestra, Stuttgart / Andrey Boreyko

SWR Music [c] SWR19037CD (66' * DDD)

Andrey Boreyko, best known to record buyers as a skilful proponent of contemporary or near-contemporary music from the ex-Soviet bloc, has also been setting down a Shostakovich cycle with the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra, of which he was lately principal guest conductor. Whether there will be further instalments is anyone's guess now that the 70-year-old ensemble has been compelled to merge with the Baden-Baden- and Freiburg-based South West German Radio Symphony. Competition in these works is of course much fiercer than it is for comparable long-form pieces by Schnittke, Silvestrov or Gorecki.

Boreyko's Eighth proves to be expert, dignified and spacious, captured in compensatingly immediate sound and shorn of applause. That said, the reading is likely to disappoint those who look for a modern recording to replicate the ferocious intensity and paint-stripping brass of Yevgeny Mravinsky's 1982 concert relay (now pitch-corrected after earlier anomalies). In Stuttgart we are trapped in a sonic mausoleum, at least until Boreyko's initially friskier account of the finale. Even there the return of first-movement material feels heavy-handed.

Competition is offered by two recent recordings from Western orchestras under conductors born on the other side of the Iron Curtain. Of these it's Vasily Petrenko's RLPO that sounds most 'genuine' at the start, the strings in particular projecting their long sustained lines with remarkable authority and weight. …

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