Mstislav Rostropovich

Shostakovich: The Complete Symphonies

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As the 15 symphonies of Dmitry Shostakovich grow in stature with the passage of time, the increasing number of complete recordings attests to their lasting significance. As a friend of the composer and a conductor of considerable artistic merit, if not always the greatest technical skill, Mstislav Rostropovich has been regarded as one of the most authoritative interpreters of the symphonies, and the set of his performances with the National Symphony Orchestra, the London Symphony Orchestra, and the Academic Symphony Orchestra of Moscow is often recommended. Rostropovich's handling of an orchestra may not have been consistent, but his musical virtues far outweigh his few faults, and most of his performances in this cycle equal the best of other conductors. These recordings, made between 1989 and 1997, were released as separate CDs and as a box set by Teldec in 1998, and the reissue by Warner restores these long out-of-print performances to the catalog. As is inevitable in a package of this scope, the audio quality of the recordings varies somewhat between the performances, the different orchestras, and the changes of venue, but Rostropovich's commitment to the music holds the set together, and the high quality of expression and execution count more than the vagaries of reproduction.

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