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Reviews: Shostakovich: Hamlet - Yablonsky

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Reviews: 2

Review by nickc May 10, 2004 (3 of 3 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
Naxos are really hitting their strides with this fantastic SACD of typically magnificent , unsettling music from my favourite 20th. century composer. Not easy listening but music that was a revelation to me having never heard any of it before. In representing Ophelia he even brings in a harpsichord which imparts a spooky feel. Naxos's SACDs really seem to be improving in leaps and bounds sound wise from their distant Rachmaninov 2nd. and 3rd. MC as usual is the difference between being there and listening to a flat facsimile of the music.

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Review by Dinko June 19, 2004 (5 of 5 found this review helpful)
This newcomer is probably one of the very best film music rerecordings ever. There has been a relatively recent 15-year boom in rerecording film scores. Some have been very successful, like the Chandos Movies series and Marco Polo Film Music titles, while others have employed third rate high school bands and used the most acoustically-challenged recording venues.
The new Naxos Hamlet is spectacular. Shostakovich's film score is one of the best ever written. So unlike the current crop of droning underscore noise that passes off as film music, Hamlet is like the very best of the Golden Age scores: full of themes & variations; every orchestral section used to its full potential (as opposed to having the whole orchestra play the same notes simultaneously as happens too often these days). And whoever thought a harpsichord could be a sinister instrument?
The Russian Philharmonic Orchestra seems born to play this music (except for the tiny, miniscule violin section). Dmitry Yablonsky outdoes himself (and out does Riccardo Chailly and José Serebrier as well) leading a perfect Shostakovichian performance.

The sound, in stereo is magnificent. It is one of the most transparent orchestral recordings I've ever heard (much like the Shostakovich 7th symphony from the same sources). The drums and timpani are vivid, and so natural. The brass have a full bodied, rounded, concert-like sound.

I find the multichannel mix very disappointing though. It's frustrating to listen to it without adjustments to the system. The rear channels have been delayed so much, that instead of hall reverb, what we get is loads of delayed echo. It's like being in a large public square, and having the orchestra in front, but then the sound it produces ricochets on the walls of the buildings behind and comes back to the listener. I'd rather listen to it in stereo than adjusting the system just to listen to this.

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