Daniel Raiskin / Philharmonisches Staatsorchester Mainz / Staatsorchester Rheinische Philharmonie

Shostakovich: Symphony No. 4 in C minor, Op. 43

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Daniel Raiskin's live recording of Dmitry Shostakovich's Symphony No. 4 in C minor stands practically on equal footing with several other contemporary, first-rate performances, and if listeners are perplexed by the many choices available to them, they can rest assured that this is a vital rendition of the piece. Judged as a composite performance, which was edited from two concerts given by the Staatsorchester Rheinisches Philharmonie and the Philharmonisches Staatsochester Mainz, Raiskin conveys the right gritty feeling and stylistic consistency for this work to cohere, and he takes the ensembles on a harrowing journey through Shostakovich's most bracing symphony. Purists may object to the pasting together of separate performances by separate ensembles, united only by Raiskin's leadership, and parts of the recording are difficult to sort out for either praise or blame. However, since the playing by both orchestras is top-notch throughout, and the interpretation is true to Shostakovich's idiom, experts would be hard pressed to differentiate any parts of the performances, and because the editing is flawless, most listeners won't object. One aspect of the recording that is worth weighing is the audio quality, which is slightly subdued and requires a high volume setting for the softer passages, which becomes inconveniently loud in the climaxes, particularly in the monumental chords near the close of the Finale.

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