Dmitri Kitayenko

Shostakovich: The Symphonies

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When this cycle of the symphonies of Shostakovich with Dmitri Kitajenko conducting the Gürzenich-Orchester Köln was released in 2005, Shostakovich cycles were no longer the novelties they had been in the latter years of the twentieth century. There were already several superlative cycles in circulation -- the monumental Kondrashin, the modernist Rozhdestvensky, the anguished Barshai -- and a pair of superlative cycles nearing completion -- the commanding Jansons and the compelling Gergiev -- when the Kitajenko -- Köln cycle was issued on Capriccio in superaudio sound. Listeners who knew Kitajenko only from his recordings made before the collapse of Communism for Melodiya were caught off guard by his complete mastery of the music, of his grasp of its every nuance of heroism and subtlety of irony, of his understanding of its gradations between pathos and bathos, of his control over its most desiccated melody and its most crushing sonority. Listeners who knew the Gürzenich-Orchester Köln from its tremendous recordings with Wand and Conlon were not so much surprised as pleased to hear the orchestra sound so splendid here. The power of its tone, the brilliance of its colors, the strength of the rhythms, and the depth of its commitment proved no less than the finest orchestras of the former USSR. While longtime Shostakovich listeners were amazed, they found that in the Kitajenko/Köln cycle they had a cycle in the same league as the best that had heretofore been released. Made during the early days of superaudio sound, Capriccio's sound is incredibly lifelike; when it was released, listeners were stunned by the delicacy of the bells and staggered by the immediacy of the tympani.

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