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Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal & Charles Dutoit - Shostakovich: Symphonies Nos. 1 & 15 (2015)

16-09-2015, 13:31
Music | Classical Music | FLAC / APE

Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal & Charles Dutoit - Shostakovich: Symphonies Nos. 1 & 15 (2015)

Artist: Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal & Charles Dutoit
Title Of Album: Shostakovich: Symphonies Nos. 1 & 15
Year Of Release: 2015
Label: Decca (Universal Music Austria)
Genre: Classical
Quality: 320 / FLAC
Total Time: 75:21 min
Total Size: 172 / 281 MB
WebSite: Album Preview


01 - Symphony No.1 - I. Allegretto
02 - II. Allegro
03 - III. Lento
04 - IV. Allegro molto - Lento
05 - Symphony No.15 - I. Allegretto
06 - II. Adagio - Largo - Adagio - Largo (attaca)
07 - III. Allegretto
08 - IV. Adagio - Allegretto - Adagio - Allegretto

Given the generally mixed success of Charles Dutoit in Russian repertoire, it is no surprise to find here music-making of great lucidity and sophistication which sometimes (to quote DJF in another context) ''seems to take place in a carefully coached foreign language''. The earthiness of the idiom may be imperfectly understood or, more likely, insufficiently prized. That said, only those who equate roughness with authenticity in Shostakovich will find nought for their comfort. The First Symphony receives a good central interpretation, beautifully executed and accommodated in glowing sound that militates against maximal Prokofievian snap. Dutoit's manner in the first movement is often balletic, his scherzo unruffled by the neuroses of the mature composer—a fair enough view. Perhaps it is only in the context of Bernstein's distorting mirror that Dutoit's Lento appears to mute the essential element of Angst. Nevertheless, while the opening is tonally alluring, the argument does risk seeming becalmed later on. Nor is there much tension at the start of the finale (with the woodwind for once balanced too far behind the strings), and yet the fairy-tale atmosphere is swept aside from 1'33'' whence Dutoit drives to a succession of unexpectedly ferocious climaxes, audibly encouraging his players to more than cosmetic intensity.

The coupling is exceptionally generous, but the enigmatic Fifteenth is notoriously difficult to bring off and I can't help feeling that Dutoit rather lets it slip through his fingers. In the first movement, the woodwind playing is exquisite, the recording again of demonstration standard, while the conductor keeps a tighter rein on the proceedings than many rivals. Everything is precisely articulated except for that indefinable sense of irony which lies behind the notes. I was less persuaded by the Adagio. This is an extraordinary wasteland but it must not sound merely torpid. Under Dutoit, the mood of the opening is more consolatory than bleak: he observes Shostakovich's injunctions for espressivo but it doesn't help him build an authentic line. The central climax is only momentarily awesome—disconnected, neither consummation nor release. The movement as a whole comes across as strangely nebulous, as if the conductor hasn't found a way to articulate the music's despair and sense of loss.

The scherzo relies on the inherent virtuoso qualities of the Montreal winds—the expression isn't really diabolical enough—and, for all the skill and care of the performers, the finale is not conclusively idiomatic. The playing is excellent, although even these strings sound strained in the build-up to the massive non-peroration (from 7'53''); so for that matter do Haitink's LPO. For some reason Dutoit gives unexpected bite to the chords which punctuate the slide into the equivocal abyss of the closing pages. Here, the sonorities seem less arresting than usual, and, although the percussion patterns are executed without the rhythmic instability which mars the Haitink, the older conductor manages a much more potent morendo at the close. Dutoit merely switches off and goes home. No, Haitink's is still the best Western option in this work, especially considering the price and the special interest of the coupling, the song-cycle From Jewish Folk Poetry. In case you do not share my reservations about Dutoit's conscientious objectivity, I should stress that Decca's packaging is as impeccable as Ray Minshull's production; the penetrating notes are by DJF.

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