Mariss Jansons / Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra

Shostakovich: Symphony No. 10

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Mariss Jansons' live recording of Dmitry Shostakovich's Symphony No. 10 in E minor offers a compelling reading of the 1953 score, which is one of the composer's most profound works of the post-Stalinist era. By turns elegiac and enigmatic, as well as grim and grotesque, the symphony anticipates some of the characteristics of darker symphonies to come, notably in the 13th, 14th, and 15th, but they arguably found their simplest expression here. Despite an acrid Scherzo that has been identified as a sarcastic portrait of Stalin, and a manic Finale that eludes easy categorization, the prevailing mood of the symphony is somber, and it may be understood as a kind of requiem for the millions who died under Stalin's brutal regime (though with Shostakovich's habitual circumspection kept in mind, this may be but one interpretation). Jansons and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra play with high-level commitment and energy that don't diminish in the slow, quiet passages, but steadily pulse at a submerged level. The tension that results is unsettling and may be a bit puzzling, especially to an audience unfamiliar with Shostakovich's mercurial changes of style and mood, but Jansons' interpretation is straightforward and direct, so possible meanings are left to the listener. RCO Live's super audio sound captures everything, so even the subtlest nuances are fully audible.

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