Yuri Ahronovitch

Shostakovich: Symphony No. 7 "Leningrad"

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Shostakovich's Seventh Symphony not only endures today as one of his most popular and oft-performed symphonies, but it was also extremely well-liked during his lifetime and was one of his compositions actually approved of by his government. It is a musical representation of the defense of the city of Leningrad during the German siege of World War II. As one might therefore expect, there's a strong militaristic quality to much of the symphony. What's surprising is the interpretation offered on this album by conductor Yuri Ahronovitch and the Radio-Sinfonieorchester Stuttgart, especially considering the conductor's close personal and historical ties to the work. While the performance is adequate, it simply lacks the extreme precision of rhythm and articulation that characterizes superior renditions. The string section of the orchestra plays with great gusto, but the same cannot be said of the brass, who seem weaker by comparison. Intonation in tutti wind sections is problematic at times, further detracting from the sense of meticulousness. Maybe there really is something to be said about Shostakovich's symphonies being performed by Russian orchestras. The recording of the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra with conductor Yuri Temirkanov is much better equipped to deliver a more exacting interpretation.

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