Vakhtang Jordania

Shostakovich: Symphony No. 15; Suite from "The Age of Gold"

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In every way that matters, Vakhtang Jordania and the Russian Federal Orchestra are not up to Shostakovich's Fifteenth Symphony. For the orchestra, the chamber music textures of the opening Allegretto, the exposed solo playing of the Adagio, the rhythmic nuances of the Allegretto, and the sustained intensity of the closing Adagio reveal its faulty ensemble, its flawed intonation, its rhythmic inflexibility, and, worst of all, its lack of stamina. For the conductor, the problems of tempos, dynamics, balances, and cohesion seem insoluble -- the opening Allegretto wanders through the development section, the Adagio falters before the first climax, the Allegretto dissipates in the coda, and the closing Adagio loses track of the argument before the second theme. As for the work's subtle humor, its shattering grief and its overwhelming bitterness, these qualities are all but absent from Jordania's interpretation. From Yevgeny Mravinsky's coldly powerful recording through Kiril Kondrashin's passionately pessimistic recording to Gennady Rozhdestvensky's ironically morbid recording to Maxim Shostakovich's virtually definitive world-premiere recording, Shostakovich's Fifteenth has been better served. Jordania and the Russians are more successful in their recording of the suite of parodistic dances from Shostakovich's ballet The Age of Gold, but even there, the music sounds more sincere than sarcastic and thereby misses the point of the music. Angelok's sound is small, coarse, and loud.

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