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  PentaTone Classics -
  PTC 5186 084
  Shostakovich: Symphony No. 8 - Berglund
  Shostakovich: Symphony No. 8

Russian National Orchestra
Paavo Berglund (conductor)
Track listing:
  Classical - Orchestral
Recording type:
Recording info:

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Related titles: 1

Reviews: 3

Site review by Polly Nomial August 14, 2006
Performance:   Sonics:  
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Review by fafnir June 29, 2006 (12 of 14 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
In my view, the Shostakovich 8 is a terribly uneven work and especially difficult to perform effectively. The immense first movement is one of Shostakovich's greatest symphonic achievements with alternating passages of lyricism, brutality and resignation. This is followed by an allegro of unmitigated banality - whether intentional or not is far from clear. The third movement is inspired. Driving and relentness, it leads into a slow passacaglia, which is presumably the emotional core of the work. This movement can either be deeply affecting or a snooze fest depending on the skill of the conductor in characterizing each of the variations and holding the movement together. Supposedly the symphony was finished in just two months. I would suggest that Shostakovich should perhaps have taken more time - at least until he came up with some decent inspiration for the last movement, which I think is more or less a total dud: it seems written by formula with second rate ideas uninterestingly presented. I don't think that the final few rather touching minutes of this movement in any way compensate for the preceeding boring 14. These opinions are, of course, completely subjective and many will rate the work overall much more highly or poorly than I do.

Berglund and the Pentatone engineers have scored a triumph. Berglund emphasizes the bleakness of the first movement. His tempos, though even slower than those of Rostropovich, carry the music forward extremely well, and listening is a gripping experience. The second movement goes about as well as can be expected, and the third is very fine - a terrifying build into the fourth movement. Once again, Berglund excels and provides a beautiful performance. The last movement is beyond help, but Berglund probably does as much as could be done with it.

Without excellent recorded sound, listening to this work can be even more painful than is inherent in the music. Pentatone has exceeded itself in providing surround sound in every respect as good as it gets.

Highly recommended, even for those who are not completely thrilled by the music.

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Review by Luukas January 26, 2014 (1 of 4 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
This is very dramatic performance of Dmitri Shostakovich's Eighth Symphony. Paavo Berglund conducts Russian National Orchestra in June 2005, and I like this very much. Berglund's tempi are just right and PentaTone's multichannel quality is outstanding, as always. Third movement is terrific, but fourth movement's begin isn't very good (tam-tam's and bass drum's strikes are quiet and powerless). First and fifth movements nightmare sections are stunning. By the way, excellent SACD.

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Works: 1  

Dmitri Shostakovich - Symphony No. 8 in C minor, Op. 65