LSO / Gergiev, Barbican, London
Tuesday 18 October 2005
Valery Gergiev - soon to be the orchestra's chief conductor - breathed with this music, sometimes audibly, sometimes merely through the fluttering vibrato of his fingers. In the epic, war-torn Eighth Symphony - the dark heart of the Shostakovich canon - Gergiev created a sense of space and atmosphere and colour that dug deep into the subtext of the piece. Bass-lines were unfathomable; high-lying, piccolo-flecked violins were so taut as to be ready to snap in an instant.
This is music of unremitting intensity, music that almost never relaxes. It is the music of fear and sorrow, fear tangible here in the seismic eruptions of solo percussion, in the shudder of a triple-forte string tremolando evaporating in an instant to a barely audible shiver. At such moments it was possible not to believe one's own ears. And then there was the sorrow. Christine Pendrill's long, eloquent cor anglais solo seemed to shoulder it all in the closing pages of the first movement. Her quiet playing - indeed, that of all the woodwind principals - was astonishingly fine.
A sensational account of the Eighth Symphony, then, and if the temptation so early in the cycle was to say, "Follow that", Gergiev and the LSO did so the very next night with a no less riveting account of the other great war symphony, the Seventh, "Leningrad".
Decades of bad press have not blunted the impact of this amazing work. The dynamic and emotional range of this performance was colossal. But what really left a lasting impression were the shadowy recesses of the inner movements, music quite unlike anything else in Shostakovich. The trio of the scherzo - a mad Mahlerian waltz withering to disgruntled bass clarinet; the fractured wind chorale of the slow movement eventually torn from the strings to become something all too human, all too fallible.
It's a long road home to the final blaze of C major in this symphony, but Gergiev and the LSO really earned it for all of us. Stunning.
Is the comedy album making a comeback?comedy
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 'Women should not laugh in public,' says Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister in morality speech
- 2 The secret report that helps Israel hide facts
- 3 Is Ebola coming to Britain? UK health officials issue warning to doctors as outbreak fears grow
- 4 Richard Dawkins says 'date rape is bad, stranger rape is worse' on Twitter
- 5 Danish TV reporter is all business up top, all party down below
The secret report that helps Israel hide facts
A day in the life of Vladimir Putin: The dictator in his labyrinth
Woman and two children killed by mob in riots over 'blasphemous' Facebook post in Pakistan
Putin is 'thuggish, dishonest and reckless', says British ambassador to US
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – Britain as others see us
A new Russian revolution: The cracks are starting to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
- < Previous
- Next >