Mravinsky Edition Vols 11-20: Music by Beethoven, Richard Strauss, Shostakovich, Tchaikovsky, Bruckner, Rimsky-Korsakov, Glazunov, Brahms Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra (Recorded: 1947-1973) (Melodiya / BMG 74321 29459 2; 10 discs)
Friday 22 March 1996
Shostakovich is represented by three symphonies, two of which - the Fifth and the Eighth - Mravinsky premiered. The 1954 Fifth marries velvet and steel, whereas the 1947 Eighth (its first-ever complete recording) suggests massive architecture blasted by war. Although technically compromised, it remains the most devastating recorded statement of what is surely Shostakovich's greatest symphony. The Seventh ("Leningrad') finds the first movement's "bawdy ditty" speeding excitedly towards its main climax, but the effect is extremely convincing.
Even better is a 1957 Tchaikovsky's Fourth Symphony which, although similar in design to Mravinsky's famous 1960 DG stereo recording, is less obsessively driven. Here the accent is more on spontaneity, whereas a 1949 Pathetique parades some remarkably sweet-centred string-playing - especially towards the end of the first movement. Francesca da Rimini wails and rages, the Capriccio Italien is calculated to the last semiquaver, and the Serenade for Strings reveals abundant detail within a lustrous tonal context. BMG tells us that the Serenade was set down in 1949, whereas Russian Disc label the same performance as "recorded in 1961". And does Mravinsky's massively stated Brahms Third Symphony date from 1973 (BMG's claim) or 1965 (as Memoria would have it)? Certain other items have also appeared elsewhere, though not a strangely unidiomatic 1959 Bruckner Eighth where you recognise each episode, but can't quite grasp how you got there - or why.
A brilliantly played Brahms Fourth raises similar doubts and so (to a lesser extent) do equally virtuosic accounts of Beethoven's Fifth and Seventh. However, Mravinsky charts the full breadth of Strauss's sprawling Alpine Symphony and brings appropriate panache to the tuneful Fourth Symphony of Alexander Glazunov. Other items include Strauss's First Horn Concerto, Rimsky-Korsakov's Tale of the Invisible City of Kitezh and an entertaining Classical pastiche by Mikhail Goldstein (alias Nikolai Ovsyaniko-Kulikovsky).
Documentation is excellent and the transfers (from variable originals) are generally first-rate, save for a woefully distorted finale to Beethoven's Fifth. Still, Beethoven is better served elsewhere - unlike Shostakovich, Tchaikovsky and Glazunov, all of whom shine resplendent under Yevgeny Mravinsky's inspired direction.
GlastonburyWI to make debut appearance at Somerset festival
TV reviewIt has taken seven episodes for Game of Thrones season five to hit its stride
FilmPalme d'Or goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 School kitchen manager 'fired from Colorado school for giving hungry students free lunches'
- 2 California man brutally beat 82-year-old Sikh grandfather he mistook for 'one of those people'
- 3 Amber Peat: Body found in search for missing 13-year-old who ran away after argument with her parents
- 4 Gay teenager 'forced to have sex with his own mother' to 'cure' his homosexuality, campaigners in India say
- 5 Charles Kennedy 'had better judgement drunk than many sober politicians' says Ian Hislop
Game of Thrones season 6: George RR Martin doing 'anything he can' to get new book The Winds of Winter out before next HBO series airs
Game of Thrones, Battle of Hardhome: 20-minute Wildlings versus White Walkers battle took a 'solid month' to film
Game of Thrones season 5 episode 9, The Dance of Dragons: Jon Snow returns to The Wall after epic Battle of Hardhome
Touch-screen Teletubbies say hello: Tinky Winky, Dipsy, Laa-Laa and Po are back, now with smart technology
Black Angel: Long lost Star Wars precursor to be made into crowdfunded feature film
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination
Migrants in Kos: Photos show real tragedy after Brits abroad complain of 'awkward' holidays
British tourists complain that impoverished boat migrants are making holidays 'awkward' in Kos
Michael Gove determined to scrap the Human Rights Act – even if Scotland retains it
Threat to scrap Human Rights Act could see UK follow Nazi example, warns UN official
Church of England 'one generation away from extinction' after dramatic loss of followers