Shostakovich, Kogan, and an amazing concert....
DAVID A. FLETCHER | Richmond, Va United States | 02/13/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I'll be brief. If you're a "Shostakolic", add this to your roster of favorite Symphony #10's. Even if your interest is mainly in collecting bravura performances of key Russian works as played by Russian orchestras, then by all means snatch this up. Visuals are quite good, the sound is terrific, and most importantly, the Moscow State Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Music Director Pavel Kogan (yes, son of violinist Leonid Kogan), are caught in a moment of white heat and intensity.Important "extras" for the DVD include the optional musical analysis subtitles, which can enhance the viewing experience for both the seasoned listener as well as those who are coming to the music as Shostakovich neophytes. There's some debate as to an implied or overt "program" to the 10th, and it's safe to say that both Kogan and his forces, as well as the DVD producers, come down squarely on the Volkov/"Testimony" side of performance practice. In their hands, the symphonic journey of Dmitri Shostakovich, composer, living and writing under the thumb of Stalin for decades--and--suriving to both tell the tale and celebrate the triumph of the artist over tyranny, is all too clear. Even without the analysis subtitles, simply following maestro Kogan's energetic conducting provides ample visual "evidence" of this; there's more than a bit of Bernstein and von Karajan in the way his expressions urge the musical events forward.If there's any complaint to be found with the performance from a technical standpoint, it may be centered on some specious intonation in the winds, apparently centered--oddly--on the first oboe. The "shrieking" sequence in the 2nd movement--where the oboes and flutes play unison--is perhaps the worst example, though to be fair, it IS one of the most difficult wind passages in the literature to get spot-on, with all parties playing in the upper range and at double-ff volume.On the other side of the balance sheet, you'll hear WONDERFUL sectional string work, characteristicly braying Russian brass (love it or hate it, it's there!), and assured, inspired leadership over the procedings by Kogan. At 73 minutes, it's apparent that this performance was most likely the second half of a longer concert, perhaps beginning with a short opener and a concerto. In addtion to the Shostakovich, we're treated to four (!) encores, including the Glazunov "Entr'acte from Raymonda", the Tchaikovsky "Waltz from Eugene Onegin," Wagner's "Prelude to the third act of Lohengrin," and finally the gloriously galumphing "Parody" from one of Shostakovich's ballet suites. Throughout, the audience is enthusiastic and reasonably quiet when need be, with coughing and shuffling held to a minimum.The concert, dating from 1990, derives from Kogan's first tour abroad with "his" orchestra. The Berlin Wall had fallen only a few years prior, and the great post-Communist opening to the West had truly begun. The sense of occasion is obviously shared by audience and orchestra alike, and the pride with which the Moscow State Symphony Orchestra deliver perhaps the greatest symphony by Russia's most important 20th century composer is well-earned."
A high intensity performance
Robert G. VanStryland | Denton, TX USA | 08/07/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This performance, by the Moscow State Symphony Orchestra, took place in Munich around the time of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the demise of the Soviet Union. Perhaps the political turmoil of the time had something to do with the exceptional intensity with which this (covertly) political symphony is performed. Shostakovich wrote this piece (one of his greatest) just after the death of Stalin; in part, it represents his triumph over Stalin. The performance is virtuosic and thrilling, and the enthusiastic audience reaction elicits four orchestral encores, all very well played, although conductor Pavel Kogan (perhaps reacting to an adrenaline surge) tries to set a world speed record in the Prelude to Act III of Lohengrin. The disc includes useful biographical information related to this work (Pioneer typically does a better job with such background work than other DVD manufacturers). I recommend that you listen to this disk at least once with the "Analysis" feature turned on. It's not really analysis, of course, but it does point out the use of the "DSCH" motive. ("DSCH" is an abbreviation of the composer's name in German notation and spelling. Music representing Stalin is juxtaposed with this motive. Guess who has the last word.) There is one other DVD of this piece available, a fine performance conducted by Georg Solti and paired with a Mendelssohn symphony. Even if you already have that one, I recommend that you get this one too; it's a significantly better performance. Sound, picture, and camera work are all excellent."
Well worth buying
R. Evans | Montgomery AL | 03/20/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I agree with the enthusiastic comments of the other reviewers. I would simply add that the "Parody" is loads of fun, epecially as performed here, at the climax of an altogether splendid concert. The subtitled commentary adds a great deal to the experience, especially when the commentator obviously gets carried away with his or her own enthusiasm. This is easily one of my favorite videos of classical music."