One of the most grown-up review sites around

54,416 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             


Some items
to consider

new MWI
Current reviews

old MWI
pre-2023 reviews

paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews

Songs to Harp from
the Old and New World

all Nimbus reviews

all tudor reviews

Follow us on Twitter

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

CD: Crotchet AmazonUK AmazonUS

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975)
Symphony No. 1 in F minor op. 10 [27:55]
Symphony No. 5 in D minor op. 47 [37:40]
Philharmonia Orchestra/Efrem Kurtz (1)
Chicago Symphony Orchestra/Andre Previn (5)
rec. 4 March 1957, Kingsway Hall, London (1); 25 January 1977, Medinah Temple, Chicago (5). ADD
Experience Classicsonline

This disc is a reissue of two early Shostakovich recordings on Capitol (No. 1) and Angel (No. 5) LPs.
Efrem Kurtz’s recording of Symphony No. 1 has gained widespread recognition for its vivacity and energy. There is a clear influence here of Kurtz’s experience of working with dancers; the fast movements are light and move with ease and grace. The slower sections too have a well judged sense of poise without over-indulged sentimentality. Throughout, Kurtz retains the sense of freshness that one would expect in a work composed by a talented 19 year old student. There is no stuffiness here. The tempi are generally on the fast side - Kurtz overall almost 7 minutes faster than Vladimir Jurowski's Pentatone recording (see review).


I feel, however, that these speeds work well, especially in the hands of an orchestra as capable as the Philharmonia, who take the technical challenges in their stride and give a dazzling rendition.

The Fifth Symphony is perhaps Shostakovich’s most well known work. It is surrounded in controversy as a result of the criticism he received for his opera Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk in 1936. Described as ‘a Soviet artist’s response to just criticism’ one cannot help but wonder how it would have been different had he not been compelled to respond to political pressure. Perhaps the fourth symphony is our best guide to this? Recordings of the Fifth abound, with varying interpretations of tempo and character. The end is particularly open to discussion – does the symphony close triumphantly at a fast pace or at half the speed as an enforced celebration? This recording was made by Previn and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 1977, shortly after Shostakovich’s death. The energy is unquestionable, and the driving accelerando towards the climax in the first movement is electrifying. The brass section comes into its own here, punctuating the strings with well balanced chords. The unison melody that follows has strength and weight, maintaining the power that has been allowed to develop through the movement.
The grotesque scherzo is fast paced but not rushed, although it perhaps lacks the refinement of some recordings I have heard. The slow movement is also faster than many versions, particularly in the climaxes. It retains a sense of space though, and Shostakovich’s dark and mournful harmonies are given space to breathe. The finale is energetic and driving, but with just enough control to maintain an even pulse and build tension. The euphoric moments are short-lived, tempered by the entry of militaristic influences which follow almost immediately. The slow-moving music that follows is tinged with nostalgia for happier times, and Previn handles this well, ensuring the continuing direction while allowing time for reflection. And so to the ending – Previn chooses the fast option, choosing to interpret the metronome mark as crotchet = 176 rather than quaver. Triumphant celebrations, therefore, end this excellent recording of what is, in my opinion, one of the finest symphonies of the twentieth century.
Carla Rees


Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

All APR reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount




Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Pat and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Return to Review Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.