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  • Shostakovich: Symphonies Nos. 4 & 10 (Essential Classics)
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Shostakovich: Symphonies Nos. 4 & 10 (Essential Classics)

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Audio CD, April 16, 1996
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Editorial Reviews

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The history of Shostakovich's Symphony No. 4 is now well known. It had been banned in 1935 by Stalin (who hadn't actually heard the piece) and surfaced 30 years later when Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra recorded it (this is the analog transfer of that incredible first recording). It is a unwieldly work of broken rhythms and brash melodic statements. The coda, one of the most harrowing passages in all of 20th-century music, presages the Eighth Symphony and (years later) the Tenth. Ormandy's Fourth is the best on the market, and the Tenth is way up there as well. --Paul Cook


Disc: 1
1. Symphony No.10 In E Minor, Op.93: I. Moderato - Dmitri Shostakovich
2. Symphony No.10 In E Minor, Op.93: II. Allegro - Dmitri Shostakovich
3. Symphony No.10 In E Minor, Op.93: III. Allegretto - Dmitri Shostakovich
4. Symphony No.10 In E Minor, Op.93: IV. Andante - Allegro - Dmitri Shostakovich
Disc: 2
1. Symphony No.4 In C Minor, Op.43: I. Allegretto poco moderato - Presto - D. Shostakovich
2. Symphony No.4 In C Minor, Op.43: II. Moderato con moto - D. Shostakovich
3. Symphony No.4 In C Minor, Op.43: III. Largo - Allegro - D. Shostakovich

Product Details

  • Orchestra: Philadelphia Orchestra
  • Conductor: Eugene Ormandy
  • Composer: Dmitri Shostakovich
  • Audio CD (April 16, 1996)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Sony
  • ASIN: B0000029QE
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #237,201 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Avrohom Leichtling on August 3, 2001
Format: Audio CD
Eugene Ormandy, more than any other American conductor of his generation, had a special affinity for Shostakovich. His recording of the Fourth Symphony was made shortly after the world premiere some thirty years after it was written. That performance remains the best of the lot. Shostakovich is one composer whose music "plays itself" if you are intelligent enough to follow his directions. So many conductors labor under the delusion that they must make a piece of music "theirs." All too often, this means adding excessive amouts of 'interpretation' that only serves to distort or destroy the music. Ormandy was not immune to that syndrome, but, fortunately, it is not in evidence here. The Philadelphians give us a wonderful reading that is just right in all of its details. The phantasmagorica of this work needs no special emphasis - and that, clearly, is the genius of the composer. The later performance of the Tenth Symphony is also, just right. The tempi, phrasing and dynamics are on the mark (see the score, please), and there are no excesses of angst.
Since it has become fashionable to view Shostakovich as the chronicler of opression and doom, it is also fashionable to play his scores as if our entrails were lying bloodied, on the floor. This tends to make the pieces much more hysterical than they are. His music deserves better. Ormandy serves his composer admirably in these performances primarily by not letting the emotional elements run amok. Here we have two primary exmaples of "less is more."
Here is solid playing, and appropriate respect for the composer.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By D. R. Greenfield on March 5, 2001
Format: Audio CD
This performance of the Fourth dates all the way back to the early 60's, the height of the Cold War. As a teenager in the 60's, I owned the LP version of this work, and its cold Kafkaesque atmosphere never ceased to send chills down my spine. It made you really believe in the Evil Empire. Paradoxical, too, because one would wonder who was this Shostakovich? The man was a complete mystery. And if he was such a good Soviet, why had he created this cold Orwellian vision? Thirty years later, it remains the definitive Western version of the Dark Masterpiece. I also own the Rattle and the Rostropovich recordings of this work. But these other performances have never really impressed me like this early performance by Ormandy. As for the Tenth, it is one of the most recorded symphonies of DDS, and there are many fine versions out there. It too is a history of the Stalin era, though more laconic (except for the harsh scherzo charicature of "the leader and teacher"). Ormandy's version is good but, as the previous reviewer truthfully says, it is the Fourth which really shines in this pairing. Overall, this is an excellent introduction to the music of the twentieth century's greatest composer.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Charles Emmett on September 25, 2002
Format: Audio CD
I used to have an old lp recording of the fourth symphony with Ormandy and the PHO. But this copy that I got of the 4th and the 10th on cd are beyond description. I listen to all of my recordings with my earphones so I get all of the sounds and rythms very clearly.
I had always realized Shostakovich's homage to Mahler, but I heard others as well and the way that Shostakovich weaves them all in along with his own distinct sounds works absolutely wonderful.
For example, in the Fourth Symphony there was this unmistakable horn passage that no one could miss that was as if the horn had found the melody from Mahler's 7th Sym. and the 'song of the night tune' seems to be soaring out over the orchestra. To my surprise was Bartok and Stravinsky. I kept hearing passages similar to Bartok's 'Concerto for Orchestra' or his 'Orchestral Suites. And I swore that I was hearing little 'Rites of Spring' pop up hear and there. I am not saying that any of this was plageristic. I felt that it was all a sense of homage and so ingeniously inserted into his own music.
This was my first experience of hearing the tenth. So awesome and beautiful, and again these periods of homage that were so beautifully inserted into the music and help to fulfill Shostakovich's ideas. I also loved the cyclic style of the 10th and how that idea from the first movement kept showing up in ever new and creative ways.
Now for Ormandy and the PHO. Astounding! I have his recording of Shostakovich's fifth. I know that he recorded some others for RCA. I did once have no.13, 'Babi Yar', but have it no more. The brass was so clean and pure. The string section non pariel. as usual, was stunning in the fourth sym. and the 10th.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Larry VanDeSande VINE VOICE on August 13, 2004
Format: Audio CD
Critics worldwide have hailed these recordings for 40 years as among the best available in these two very dramatic Shostakovich symphonies. Ormandy was a collaborator with the composer and specialized in his music during the 1950s, releasing the first commercial recording of the Cello Conceto No. 1 with Rostropovich in a disk with Oistrakh's Violin Concerto that is still considered one of the best after all these years.

The Shostakovich 10th Symphony is not his most popular but is probably his greatest masterpiece in the form. Its description of national Russian anguish under the Stalin regime probably makes it less accessible for casual listeners, especially those that enjoy his less dramatic work in the 1st and 9th Symphonies.

The famous second movement of the 10th symphony is the searing portrait of Stalin the assassin, the national leader that destroyed many Russians and liquidated one of the composers closest friends during the purge of the 1930s, when it was said around the world that every family in Russia had at least one member in a Gulag.

While the symphony closes with optimism for a new post-Stalinist era, it otherwise projects the horrors of the Reign of Terror. Ormandy, along with a few other conductors, perfectly projects this sense of terror and anguish in this wonderful CD.

The Shostakovich 4th Symphony is often called his first Mahlerian symphony because it lacks a musical program and its musical ideas grow to garganutan proportions. Ormandy does the best work in this symphony -- which is among my favorite Shostakovich works -- I have ever heard in a recording. He is clearly preferable to Haitink, Previn and Rattle, all of whom lead the loud, bombastic secitons most unmusically.
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