the profusion of Sevenths available, it is difficult to see
how this one justifies its place. Georgian conductor Vakhtang
Jordania - whose major achievement seems to have been to conduct
the North American premiere of Rusalka - is a confident
guide through this score, but hardly a revelatory one. Neither
is the recording top-flight. Climaxes lack the depth they so
desperately need. Generally aggressive, there is an edge to
the strings that very possibly exaggerates their already harsh
opening sets the pace – literally. Brisk is hardly the word
for this, and brisk turns out to be relentless, too. Surely
there should be some relaxation around the two-minute mark.
Overall, this first movement is superficial, although space
should be made for mention of the famous crescendo, here riotous
and pure bombast. Brass, however, are not as forceful as some;
Gergiev's Rotterdam Philips recording shows how it should be
done - 470 845-2.
there is a lack of involvement here that sits very uncomfortably.
The second movement's shadowy dances are hardly mysterious -
credit to a good clarinettist, though. It is perhaps a measure
of the care that went into the preparation of this recording
that the chorale-chords that open the third movement are sloppily
balanced. Strings need more body, but I remain convinced they
had more at the time and the fault here lies in the recording.
One really needs to search for Shostakovich's hints at dance;
again, the involvement factor is low in the fourth movement,
which should include moments of mania - they would appear around
five minutes into the movement). Recording balance over-favours
the trumpets, and while the orchestra enjoys itself - and it
includes some fine woodwind soloists - this finale is far too
long, due to Jordania's aimless conducting. The passage around
15'40 on the strings can only be described as scrawny.
are brief – the 'booklet' is one folded piece of card. They
are as disappointing as the performance and recording.