Magazine article Gramophone

Shostakovich: Symphony No 7, 'Leningrad', Op 60

Magazine article Gramophone

Shostakovich: Symphony No 7, 'Leningrad', Op 60

Article excerpt

Shostakovich

Symphony No 7, 'Leningrad', Op 60

Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra / Mariss Jansons

BR-Klassik (F) 900184 (73' * DDD)

Recorded live at the Philharmonie im Gasteig, Munich, February 9-12, 2016

One of these days a Mariss Jansons recording will arrive that will confound my expectations. This, alas, is not it. You can tell at once from the cultured, wellrounded Bavarian sound that the very notion of something edgy or unvarnished will not be countenanced. Even as the side drum signals the seemingly innocuous toetapping, Stalin-friendly tune a warmth and cosiness pervades.

Contrary to the unsettling nature of what follows, each variation in scoring designed, in effect, to recalibrate the wretched tune is subtly and slickly inflected so that far from suggesting a sinister series of mutations what we get here is a kind of catwalk presentation of each. No menace, no threat as the tune grows in confidence and ballast (I kept waiting for the excitement to kick in) and no ratcheting-up of shock and awe as that terrifying change of key piles in the extra brass and a massive accumulation of decibels. This juggernaut is shiny and immaculate.

It's the characterisation (or the lack of) that seems to me consistently wrong headed. The fabulous first bassoon delivers a solo in the dying moments of the first movement so opulent in tone that it suggests contentment in music that is so plainly lachrymose. Beauty and blend conspire to take the edge off some of Shostakovich's most original writing in the inner movements. …

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