Aureole etc.

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Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906 - 1975)
Symphony No.7 in C major, Op. 60 ('Dedicated to the city of Leningrad') (1941)
London Shostakovich Orchestra/Christopher Cox
Recorded live at St. Cyprian's Church, London, May 18th 2002.


This CD can be obtained from Dunelm Records, 2 Park Close, Glossop, SK13 7RQ
Telephone 01457 855313 or email

Dunelm Records is, as you may or not know, a "cottage industry", run by Jim and Joyce Patterson from Glossop in the High Peak area of Derbyshire. Their CDs are home produced, from the recording, artwork and printing down to the actual CD burning; this is the second in their series devoted to the symphonies of Shostakovich. It presents a compelling case for a work which has never ranked very highly with this listener, ever since my first encounter as a teenager (Berglund on EMI/HMV), and also showcases the mainly amateur London Shostakovich Orchestra very effectively.

I had a little trouble with my initial listening, as the CD-R crackled and hissed continually on my personal CD player. Fortunately, my main system player performed perfectly, allowing a proper judgement to be formed. The fact that the recording was made live at a public performance does mean that certain allowances have to be made for the sound (e.g., as noted in the booklet, extraneous noise from various sources) but the passion, feeling, emotion (whatever you want to call it) more than compensates for this.

One of my long-standing reservations about this music has been the repetitive "invasion theme", always cheap sounding to these ears. As expected, this reading did not really do anything to reinforce or refute these feelings and the booklet notes cover the passage in some detail, including Bartók's alleged parodying of it in Concerto for Orchestra. It remains difficult to disentangle the symphony from the conditions (the siege of Leningrad) that surrounded its genesis and this is something the extensive notes clearly take as read (and they are among the most informative and exhaustive as I have seen in recent times). There is little attempt to present the music as "just music" and maybe that is indeed a pointless exercise but the inclusion of the main jewel case back cover insert photograph is perhaps unnecessarily extreme. Anyway, the performance of the symphony as a whole is as good as (or probably better) than you might expect from a mainly amateur band, the dedication and feeling the players have for the music is tangible but, in the final analysis, it is the sort of work which people will either enjoy or not enjoy and any number of performances/recordings (good, bad or indifferent) is unlikely to alter those views. The slow third movement (Adagio) is usually my "favourite" when I hear the symphony and that remains true here; others may find different and greater listening pleasures but give me the Fifth any day (or, even better, some of the chamber music). I am not a complete Shostakovich convert but he did write some great music; he also wrote some fairly mediocre music too and personally I have to count this symphony in the latter category, his Pomp and Circumstance, perhaps, as opposed to Introduction and Allegro. I am convinced that, at the time, its patriotic and propaganda value was immense and, for that reason, the symphony will always be special to many people; as an outsider on that experience, I can never perceive it in quite the same way.

Neil Horner

All made at St. Cyprian’s Church, Glentworth Street, London

KHACHATURIAN: Suite No.2 from the ballet ‘Spartacus’ [21:48]
BARBER: Concerto for violin and orchestra [24:08]
SHOSTAKOVICH: Symphony No.6 in B minor, Op.65 [30:56]

Adrian Varela (violin)
London Shostakovich Orchestra/Christopher Cox
Recorded "live" 19 May 2001
DUNELM DRD0173 [77:19]
Reviews: C H Loh, DSCH Journal

Symphony No.7 in C major [‘Dedicated to the city of Leningrad’] [73:03]
London Shostakovich Orchestra/Christopher Cox
Recorded "live" 18 May 2002
DUNELM DRD0184 [73:03]

Piano Concerto No. 2 in F major, Op. 102: (‘To Maxim Dmitrievich Shostakovich’) [20:32]
Symphony No. 11 in G minor, Op.103, ‘The Year 1905’ [67:27]
Marina Primachenko (piano)
London Shostakovich Orchestra/Christopher Cox
Recorded "live" 9 November 2002.
DUNELM DRD0193 [2 CDs: 87:59]

Symphony No. 11 in G minor, Op.103, ‘The Year 1905’ [67:27]
London Shostakovich Orchestra: Conductor: Christopher Cox; Leader: Jonathan Lee
Recorded "live" 9 November 2002.
DUNELM DRD0193B [67:27]

Symphony No.4 in C minor, Op.43 [63:39]
London Shostakovich Orchestra: Conductor: Christopher Cox; Leader: Louise Lee
Recorded "live" 8 November 2003
DUNELM DRD0216B [63:39]

Concerto for cello and orchestra No.1 in E flat, Op.107 [28:46]
Symphony No.5 in D minor, Op.47 [55:33]
Jonathan Ayling (cello)
London Shostakovich Orchestra/Christopher Cox
Recorded "live" 15 May 2004
DUNELM DRD0227 [2 CDs: 84:19]

BBC Music Magazine, November, 2004, 13, Number 3, p.63

Symphony No.5 in D minor, Op.47 [55:33]
London Shostakovich Orchestra/Christopher Cox
Recorded "live" 15 May 2004
DUNELM DRD0227B [55:33]
Single CDs: £10.95 (inclusive of postage and packing in the UK)
Dual sets of 2 CDs: £16.95 (inclusive of postage and packing in the UK)

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