Armin Jordan

Chostakovitch: Symphonie No. 5

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Though it clearly excited the live audience at the time -- just listen to the whoop of excitement before the echo of the finale's last chord has faded -- this recording by Armin Jordan and the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande of Shostakovich's Fifth Symphony made at Royce Hall in UCLA in 1987 doesn't compete well with the competition in this 2006 Cascavelle release. For one thing, the Swiss orchestra is scrawny and scrappy in the outer movements, particularly in the slapdash march at the climax of the opening Moderato and the strident coda of the closing Allegro non troppo. For another, Jordan doesn't seem to have the measure of the music; his Shostakovich sounds like a far less ironic but far more hysterical Gustav Mahler, and his Fifth sounds like the Austrian late Romantic with the emotional volume set to 11. There is, however, an exception to this criticism: the central Largo. At its start, the Swiss strings are marvelously hushed, but under Jordan's masterful guidance, they build to a searing climax. Still, there are plenty of other performances with Largos as convincing set in far more compelling contexts, and this recording can only be recommended to dedicated fans of the conductor and the orchestra. The live sound here is distant but shallow, a combination one might have thought difficult to achieve.

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