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  • Shostakovich: Symphony No. 4 / Britten: Russian Funeral
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Shostakovich: Symphony No. 4 / Britten: Russian Funeral Import


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Audio CD, Import, October 17, 1995
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Sir Simon Rattle was born in Liverpool and studied at the Royal Academy of Music in London.

Between 1980 and 1998, Rattle was Principal Conductor and Artistic Adviser of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, then Music Director. He toured and recorded extensively with them and also conducted leading orchestras in London, Europe and the USA, enjoying a close association with the ... Read more in Amazon's Simon Rattle Store

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Product Details

  • Orchestra: City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
  • Conductor: Simon Rattle
  • Composer: Benjamin Britten, Dmitry Shostakovich
  • Audio CD (October 17, 1995)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Import
  • Label: EMI Europe Generic
  • ASIN: B000008TWL
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #384,620 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Sym No.4 in c, Op.43: I. Allegretto Poco Moderato - Presto - (Tempo I)
2. Sym No.4 in c, Op.43: II. Moderato Con Moto
3. Sym No.4 in c, Op.43: III. Largo - Allegro
4. Russian Funeral: Andante Alla Marcia - Un Pochissimo Animando - Tempo Primo Piu Maestoso

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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See all 9 customer reviews
I can only imagine how I'd feel hearing all this live - maybe one day I will!
S. A. Felton
The "real" ending is harrowing, and even though Rattle's version is fast the loneliness of these last moments is no less moving.
Samuel Stephens
He is painstakingly precise, and able to inject the music with truly strong emotion in just the right places.
D. R. Greenfield

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A. Yen on April 5, 2007
Format: Audio CD
What is there to say about Shostakovich's Fourth? It wasn't controversial; there are no hints of propaganda or government intervention except in the purposely delayed premiere. It certainly isn't as "nice" as the "war" symphonies, which are on the whole more musically conservative. So what we have to go by, unusually for Shostakovich, is pure music. I like it that way; I personally would find such a diverse and colorful (yes, mostly gloomy colors, but this is Shostakovich we are dealing with) work highly corrupted by any extra-musical nonsense.

At any rate, what we have is two gargantuan and epic movements sandwiching a tiny, grotesque scherzo. The first movement is perhaps the most fragmented and abrupt; however closer analysis reveals a highly structured and rather simple design. The second is barely a wisp compared to the others, but it contains an important motif which will come to dominated the late works of Shostakovich: the strange percussion coda. The third is perhaps the most bizarre, opening with a slow funeral march introduced by a timpani in a tri-tone and then making its way through perverted dances and innocently pastoral, chirpy tunes to a huge climax, which dies down into several minutes of deathly eerie reflections of the piece dominated by a simple c minor arpeggio in the celesta.

I have more recordings of this piece than is probably normal, but each one has something different to offer. The little detail I like most about this one is actually the first bass drum entrance, which delivers a proper thwack, unlike all of the other recordings I own.

Aside from that (which isn't really a big deal) the playing is spectacular, and the sound quality nearly the best you can get. Rattle delivers energy in all the right places.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By S. A. Felton on August 17, 2006
Format: Audio CD
I am not a music critic, I just listen. I'm not really
well-trained to analyze most classical. And for me it is almost
impossible to really "understand" a good piece of classical music
on a recording, I've got to hear it live. Unfortunately this symphony
is almost never heard live because (I got this from a conductor)
it takes a "budget-busting" orchestra, and is also very difficult to
play. Perhaps the fact that it was not heard for 25 years after
it was composed due to concerns of the composer about the reaction of
the Soviet authorities has something to do with it, I don't know.

Too bad, because despite the fact that 2 of the movements
are about 25 minutes long, as a listener I don't find it any more
challenging to listen to than most of Shost.'s symphonies (I'll exclude
the 2 that are vocally-dominated). I think it's just a great piece
of music, an extraordinary composition, maybe one of the most
underrated symphonies. And as you listen, you can imagine Shostakovich
reacting to what was going on in Soviet society in the 1930's. I
found the notes that come with this CD succinct and very useful. The
writer discusses Shost.'s studying of Mahler, but Shost. gives us
not Mahler's world, but rather a picture of the first Five Year Plan,
what was supposed to be the "archetype" of Soviet success, yet in the
music we hear "the underlying horror and falseness of it all."

The final movement is incredible - there is a weird divertimento
dance part (but it doesn't sound as bizarre as some of Shost.'s
other music), then towards the end a loud, intense, stunning 2-minute
scherzo that another composer might end with, but instead Shost.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By D. R. Greenfield on January 30, 2005
Format: Audio CD
I have had this recording for a few years, but never really listened to it closely until the other evening. What struck me in particular was the excellent playing of the Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. I also think that Rattle does an admirable job of conducting this work. He is painstakingly precise, and able to inject the music with truly strong emotion in just the right places. Of course, this is one of those works that haunts the memory, and evokes so many amazing dark visions; but at the same time, like a painting by Klee or a story by Kafka, it is a darkness you love because it contains a great depth of humanity amidst the nightmarish ambience. Rattle understands this perfectly well, and delivers a performance that is both terrifying as well as sensitive to the innate dark beauty of the work.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By dv_forever on December 25, 2013
Format: Audio CD
This is a very difficult, intense and sprawling piece of music. It's difficult to piece together for the conductor because of it's episodic nature. However, some of the those episodes are among the most powerful music Shostakovich ever composed in symphonic form, so the challenge is appealing to any conductor willing to take it up.

Enter the young Simon Rattle. This is one of the better recordings from his younger days with the City of Birmingham Orchestra. When I first heard this performance years ago, it jumped out at me in a striking fashion. All the weird ticks and mannerisms Rattle developed later as he gained worldwide fame, all that is not in evidence here. Rattle is known for being obsessed with inner details and fussiness. That wasn't always so. Perhaps in music that is too familiar, say the German classics, Rattle over thinks it. But in a work with less recorded history like this ( it was far more of a rarity at the time of this recording ), Rattle simply attacks the music with vigor.

One of the Penguin Guides from years past called this the best "Western" performance of this symphony. I don't know if it's true or not since I haven't heard all the so called Western interpretations. But it is true that this is a reading from an outsider's perspective. Russian conductors like Gergiev, Rostropovich and others have more to say, giving a more personal voice to the proceedings. Rattle conducts with crushing, elemental power and that works on it's own level most effectively.

I do have a bit of a gripe though and it concerns EMI. The recording is very good but there are a couple of specific moments where I think they fouled it up. There is the fugal section in the first movement and the massive peroration in the final movement near the end.
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