Originally published on May 20
Continuing Gianandrea Noseda’s LSO Live Shostakovich cycle with two of his most-enduring Symphonies (as far as I am concerned), recorded in the Barbican Hall. Strangely, No.15 is placed first, so a quick hop to track 5 for the Largo that opens No.6 (October 31, 2019), less intense and brooding than in some performances, inviting the listener into an isolated world, not as chilly or as haunted as can be, an alternative view (it seems) sustained by eloquent playing, to which the two fast movements fit the groove without therefore presenting various emotions and ciphers. For all the precise and detailed playing (excepting muffled timpani in the Finale, although a fine violin solo from Carmine Lauri), vividly recorded, it’s rare that I think of this work as a divertimento. Symphony 15 (February 6 & 13, 2022) once again finds the LSO in top form, microphones expertly placed, yet with a first movement not as surreal or as nightmarish as might be expected, as if Noseda intended to purge the notes of everything other than their (considerable) musical value; and, if so, it’s a great success, thus the second movement is less dark and funereal than usual, if with a wonderful cello solo from David Cohen, and distinctive trombone oratory from Helen Vollam, reaching an impassioned peak, and the third movement is suitably spiky. The Finale with its shadows and spectres, comes of well, so too the crunching climax and the hallucinatory percussion-coloured conclusion. However, there is very stiff recent competition in the Fifteenth from John Storgårds, https://www.colinscolumn.com/john-storgards-and-the-bbc-philharmonic-record-shostakovichs-twelfth-fifteenth-symphonies-for-chandos/, and not forgetting Kurt Sanderling’s two penetrating recordings, Berlin and Cleveland. LSO Live LSO0878 [SACD] is released on May 26.