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Shostakovich: Symphony No. 10 / Temirkanov/Verbier Fest. Orchestra [DVD]

Album Summary

>Shostakovich, Dmitri : Symphony no 10 in E minor, Op. 93
Conductor Ensemble Composer

Notes & Reviews:

The Verbier Festival, held each summer in the Swiss Alps, has developed over seventeen years into one of the most important classical music festivals in Europe, bringing together great musical talent and dedicated music lovers alike from across the globe. Conductor Yuri Temirkanov - himself born, bred and educated in Leningrad - directs the Festival's 100-strong orchestra-in-residence in this live, captivating performance of Shostakovich's Symphony No. 10, his interpretation inspired by a Russian heritage which the orchestra evokes with brilliance and vivacity.

"The Verbier Festival Orchestra is a training orchestra, an ensemble consisting of about 100 musicians aged 17 to 29. The Festival website divulges that more than 1,000 musicians applied for a post in the orchestra for the 2010 concerts. Thus, the listener is hearing the cream of the crop among student and young musicians from across the globe. This performance attests to the collective talent of the 2009 ensemble, despite some nervous playing from the horns.

The Tenth is one of the Shostakovich's greatest symphonies. The first movement may be the composer's finest symphonic movement, both structurally and musically, and the ensuing Scherzo, supposedly a depiction of Josef Stalin, is also a gripping creation. But the third movement has some static moments and the first half of the finale, an Andante struggling to get to its Allegro portion, can test your patience. Still, the work as a whole is quite compelling and in a good performance is fully worthwhile.

Here, Temirkanov draws a spirited, if sometimes flawed performance from his young Verbier players. The strings may be the best part of this group, although most sections acquit themselves quite well, despite occasional but not damaging sloppiness. The first flute was superb throughout. The horns, as suggested above, had a few imprecisions, most notably in the first movement.

As for Temirkanov's view of the work, I can say his tempos were judicious in their moderate to brisk character, his sense of the work's dramatic flow intense, and his grip on Shostakovich's idiom here - that ability to move from the work's tragedy and terror to its triumph and exultation - is spot on. Of all the Shostakovich Tenths I've heard, which include Karajan, Ormandy, Andrew Davis, Berglund, Haitink, Slovak, Barshai and others, this one may well be a contender of sorts. These young kids play with real spirit, and if they don't have the precision of the Berlin or Philadelphia ensembles, they still impart a real sense of commitment. The sound reproduction is good and the camera work fine."-classical.net

Notes & Reviews:

Run Time: 94 min.
Region: All
Picture Format: NTSC, 16:9, Color
Sound Format(s): LPCM Stereo, Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS 5.1


Youth Orchestra Triumphs in Russian Masterpiece
According to Alexander Solzhenitsyn it was a cold, blustery day in March 1953 when the guards summoned him and his fellow political prisoners for a solemn announcement: fearless leader Josef Stalin was dead. To the horror of the guards, the prisoners threw their caps in the air and cheered wildly. Similarly, Dmitri Shostakovich “celebrated” the monster’s death with his harrowing, yet cautiously triumphant Symphony No. 10. Had Stalin not been poisoned, he might have died of shame upon hearing Shostakovich’s musical indictment. Like his 11th Symphony, this is a bracing, cinematic depiction of historic events, although the program is considerably less explicit. The menacing, violent second movement (scherzo) clearly serves as a portrait of the evil dictator himself. Meanwhile, the third movement and finale—with their prominent use of the Shostakovich’s motto theme D-S-C-H (D, E-flat, C, B in the German musical system)—detail the impact of Stalin’s policies on the composer himself. Conductor Temirkanov paints each scene vividly with bold primary colors, crisp, slashing attacks, and strongly contrasting tempos. This remarkable ensemble of 100 or so young artists (ages 17-29) from across the globe plays splendidly. Although not as polished as the world’s greatest orchestras, they nonetheless perform with a freshness and vitality that their older colleagues can rarely muster. What a shame that the names of these extraordinary players have been omitted from the booklet. We will undoubtedly be hearing from many of them again in the near future—especially the concertmaster, woodwinds, principal horn, and timpanist. Temirkanov supports his young charges splendidly at every turn. Although he does not use a baton, his intentions are always crystal clear. He prepares his players for each major entrance by looking at them well before giving them their cues. When he notices the players’ frowns after the whirlwind scherzo, he first glowers back at them. Then he lifts the corners of his mouth with his index fingers, and everyone smiles in response. Indeed, watching Temirkanov at work makes me wish I had been gifted enough to play for him. The video is crisp and cleverly edited, making effective use of dissolves and split-screen techniques. The audio is warm and richly detailed. Overall, this disc is an excellent video supplement to the classic Ormandy/Philadelphia Orchestra CD of this gripping masterwork.
Submitted on 10/25/10 by Tom Godell 
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Works Details

>Shostakovich, Dmitri : Symphony no 10 in E minor, Op. 93
  • Conductor: Yuri Temirkanov
  • Ensemble: Verbier Festival Orchestra
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Form: Orchestral
  • Written: 1953