Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975)
Symphony No.10 in e minor, Op.93 (1953) [59:30]
London Symphony Orchestra/Maxim Shostakovich
rec. January 1990, Abbey Road Studios, London. DDD
Originally released on Collins Classics
ALTO ALC 1083 [59:30]
Maxim Shostakovich, the composer’s son, appears determined to avoid glamorising his father’s mid-twentieth century Russian symphony. On this evidence his watchword is under-statement. It will certainly suit listeners who have had their fill of glare, cordite, throbbing cataclysm and searing tragedy. It is not however without kindling drive in the black jewel that is the scherzo. There the drums are magnificently rendered by the recording team of James Mallinson and Simon Rhodes in a re-mastering by Paul Arden-Taylor. We return to restraint in the Allegretto-Largo which picks over the material of the Scherzo with even more deliberation than usual. There is more quiet and reflective music in this recording than I recall hearing anywhere else in versions of this symphony. It is poles apart from the superheated standard we have become used to. On the other hand the balletic joy and circus tumblers antics of the finale at 5:50 onwards are embraced with seeming delight. No doubt this approach has a special redolence as it occasionally picks up on the frank joys of the flanking movements of the Second Piano Concerto then lying seven years in the future. One wonders whether the way Maxim tackles this symphony is a result of discussions between father and son or a reaction by the son to the basilisk stare of so many Shostakovich Tenths. In any event this is no facsimile of the ‘True Way’. It is to be appreciated in much the same sense as other individual or even eccentric recordings such as Bernstein’s Elgar Enigma with the BBC Symphony Orchestra. You need to be in the right frame of mind. When you are then you will find yourself discovering less expected facets of this symphony - a work you thought you knew.
Understated, highly individual, telling. A work you thought you knew.