Jansons’ Shostakovich Tenth, Again and Again

Review by: David Hurwitz

Shost10

Artistic Quality: 7

Sound Quality: 8

Does anyone need to record Shostakovich’s Tenth Symphony three times, as Mariss Jansons has? Would any sane person want to purchase all three versions, even if they were substantially different (they’re not)? Has the record industry learned nothing from the disaster it brought on itself since the 1990s by recording way too much of everything? Jansons is a fine Shostakovich conductor. His first version of this symphony, with the Philadelphia Orchestra, was excellent, his two subsequent versions less so, but still good.

Basically we have the same interpretation here as the first time, only a minute or two slower in each part. This isn’t such a big deal in the first movement, which is very convincingly paced even if we could do with more percussive oomph at the big central climax–but it matters a lot in the second and third movements. The former lacks the necessary ferocity, the latter simply drags. Matters improve for the finale, but there too Jansons’ refusal to let go and let the orchestra strut its stuff prevents the conclusion from reaching the heights of giddiness that Shostakovich intended. Good sonics, good playing, a receptive audience, but it’s not Jansons’ best.



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Recording Details:

Reference Recording: Karajan II (DG); Ancerl (DG); Järvi (Chandos)


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