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Dip Your Ears, No. 162 (Gergiev Cycles Through Shostakovich)

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D.Shostakovich, Symphony No.7,
Valery Gergiev / Mariinsky Orchestra
Mariinsky Live SACD

Shostakovich's Humdinger

Shostakovich’s Seventh Symphony is a prisoner of her own history and the resultant clichés: a triumph of propaganda, competition, intrigue, and daredevil plots. Laden with extra-musical meaning, the enjoyably crude humdinger of a symphony made Shostakovich an instant international cultural icon in the free world. In the first movement, DSCH-typical, he slowly piles on music to ratchet up the tension, Bolero-like. Whenever the work, which the slow moving and deliberate Valery Gergiev stretches to 82+ minutes, about slips from the listener’s attention-grip, he gives it a little kick until he finally unleashes fervor. It’s considerably better than the first go-around Gergiev had on Philips, and like the Rostropovich Shostakovich on LSO Live, it’s well recorded with wide dynamics (not quite as wide as those). It isn’t, however, as thrilling as Andris Nelsons’ recent recording with Birmingham (Orfeo).

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