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  • Shostakovich - 4th Symphony - Kondrashin

    Does any-one have a CD of Shostakovich's Symphony #4 performed by the Moscow Symphony Orchestra conducted by Kiril Kondrashin ?

    That recording was first issued on a 2LP set on the Russian Melodiya label.

    It has been released on CD under license from Melodiya by several Companies:-

    EMI ; Le Chant Du Monde ; BMG ; Aulos ; Venezia ; and most recently by Melodiya themselves in a boxed set of Kondrashin's recordings of all Shostakovich's symphonies.
    Some of the other Companies released in boxed sets only.

    Which Company/label is your CD on ?

    Is your CD of the 4th Symphony in Mono or Stereo ?

    In the Kondrashin boxed sets most of the Shostakovich symphonies are in Stereo, but apparently not always for #4 .

  • #2
    I have the Kondrashin Aulos collection of his symphonies with the Moscow Philharmonic, but, honestly, I can't find the thing right now (I did look). We're going through an overhaul of our house set up and it must be in a cardboard box. I'd only listened to the fourth a couple of times as I just bought it late last year/early this year. If I recall though, it was in stereo. I'm pretty sure of this.

    By the way, I have perhaps four No. 4's and audio-quality aside, this is my favorite. Sound quality is reportedly much better than on the same recording earlier released by BMG/Melodiya, although I never listened to that recording. Still, the audio quality is just okay.

    The Kondrashins, as opposed to many others, seemed to run on passion and fire, or, as they say, were very Russian, meaning not interpreted in a polite way. The sound quality varied substantially from symphony to symphony.


    • #3
      Hi Keith, thankyou for your reply, and for looking, and I know the "can't find" situation too well as I don't have most of my CDs in a complete logical order, thus sometimes have to spend excess time looking for something, and getting annoyed, and stacks of CDs and other things falling over ... Yes, I should clean up and establish some order, which I hope to do when time becomes available to do it properly ...

      My interest in earlier issues of Kondrashin's Shost. #4 is that the original tape is apparently deteriorating and there are audible faults now, in particular in the 1st movement at 15'52" a reviewer of the new Melodiya set -{on Musicweb International}- describes an audible annomoly that could be the sound being reduced from stereo to mono for a, hopefully brief, period -{he doesn't state for how long}.
      I am wondering if this tape fault has been there for a while and perhaps the earlier CD issues were delibrately reduced to mono so as to not disturb one's concentration on the music when the fault(s) come past.
      If the fault is majorly distracting, then I'd prefer a mono issue, or perhaps the tape had not deteriorated so much when the earlier masterings were made from it.
      Well, if you come across your Aulos copy, I would be interested in your opinion about what you can hear occur at 15'52", but when you have time, as I'm certainly not expecting you to interrupt your overhaul whilst you are in progress ! - you're at least ahead of mine !!

      Shostakovich's 4th Symphony is one of my favorite works, though I have only one CD of it - Maxim Shostakovich's live recording on Supraphon - and a vinyl LP of Jarvi's recording for Chandos -{currently packed away in a not easily accessable location}.
      It is many years since I heard Kondrashin's recording, though I remember very well how much I liked it and how impressed I was by the styles of music in the work.
      I hadn't heard #4 prior to Kondrashin's.

      I have been fortunate to have attended a concert a few years ago with Andrei Lazarev conducting a performance of it that was very very good.
      Lazarev has not recorded it.
      I do like Maxim's version quite a lot, with only reservation about the fade-down and out to silence of the Finale.
      Maxim fades somewhat faster than Lazarev did, and the effect is not as ..?.. I can't think of a suitable word to use to describe, but you will know the effect as you have four recordings of it.
      Though Maxim could be correct in what he did if such is as in the Score, and perhaps Lazarev extended for effect.
      I have forgotten how Jarvi ends it, though I did enjoy his version and am looking forward to hearing it again.
      I have heard parts of some other conductors' recordings, but none convinced me, in the parts I heard, that they had grasped the full potential of the music there, except for Rozhdestvensky in his USSR State ...etc... Orchestra recording, which is currently unavailable.

      There has recently been released a live concert recording of Kondrashin conducting a German orchestra in a performance of #4 about a year before he recorded it in Moscow.
      The recording is apparently in Mono, but that will not disuade me, as I very much want to hear another of his performances of it from that era.
      I have forgotten the other details - Record Company , etc ... - but will find and post here soon if you are interested.
      I will have to buy it via Mail-order, thus it will be a while till I get it yet.

      There is also a Kondrashin live concert version with the Concertgbouw -{spelling ?}- Orchestra from some time late in his life which has recently been released only in a boxed set of Concertgbouw concert recordings of various Composers' works conducted by various Conductors.

      My favorite Symphonies of Shostakovich's are numbers 4 ; 8 ; 11 ; 15 ; then 6 ; 9 ; 13 ; 14 .
      I like only parts of 5 ; 7 {not much} ; 10 ; 12 , though I don't think Shost. intended listeners to actually enjoy hearing #12, given what it is about, though I can appreciate what he has written there, as in the parts of 5 and 10 that I don't like.
      For #7, I'll have to get out my Melodiya 2LP set of Svetlanov's Russian recording when possible, and play it again and try to make sense of the 2nd ; 3rd ; 4th movements as the versions of 7 I've heard in recent years are either a mess, or simply tedious in those movements.
      I do remember Svetlanov's being listenable, and better than another version I had heard back then.


      • #4

        You might try here for your answer. I once posted on this site quite a bit, but haven't for a couple of years. It is filled with composers, musicians, and just plain afficionados of classical music. Moreso, many really know their stuff and are well versed in the individual releases by Shostakovich. They will, I'm sure, welcome someone of your passion and knowledge. I'd post on the section of the forum titled "Great Recordings".

        But...please keep posting on this site as well. You have a lot to share.


        • #5
          You might first review this particular thread on full Shostakovich symphonic cycles. It's now at 27 full pages of postings and, I'm sure, will be interesting for a lover of his music.


          • #6
            Thankyou ineed !

            Hi Keith, thankyou very much indeed for your recommendation of the GMG forum - it looks very good !
            It will take me awhile to read through the 27 pages on Shostakovich, but I will start after here.

            I am quite happy to continue to post here about music in regard to Composers and Recordings , etc ... in what-ever anyone wishes to discuss in areas I may know something about.
            I like a variety of music styles ;- some UK and USA Folk music, including some Electric Instruments' derivatives from, and a little from some of the European countries and further south through to some African ; some Blues ; some Jazz ; some Classical - mostly from the time of Brahms onwards to now, but not forgetting Bach and a few others.

            As you mentioned having at least four recordings of Shostakovich's 4th Symphony, I am wondering if you like it in particular, or simply have those as parts of boxed sets which you prefer other Symphonies from ?

            If you like the 4th, whose versions do you have ?
            and how do you think the Finale should be played ?

            I do like a lot more of it than simply the Finale, however after one has listened through a satisfying version it is even better when it ends in a way one can appreciate !

            No, I don't expect you or anyone to necessarily agree on my rankings of preference of the works themselves, nor individual performances.
            Sometimes I am challenged in my mind to hear a work or a particular recording as result of reading what someone else who is a genuine enthusiast has said about it.
            __________________________________________________ _______________



            • #7
              Hey there, Chris.

              Two of the No.4's I own are from box sets, the Barshai (only $22 for the whole cycle when I bought it) and the Kondrashin. The others are Haitnik with the London and another one that's packed away during the great reorganization. That one was a Naxos.

              Of these, the two I most prefer, by a substantial gap, are the Barshai and Kondrashin. Although quite different, they both become aggressive when called upon to do so. I prefer Kondrashin's interpretation, but the recording quality sucks compared to the Barshai. As a side note, when you get to that thread at Good Music, they mention that there are two Melodiya sets, the most recent, where it shows Shostakovich wearing red glasses, is apparently the best sound quality to date. The Haitnik I appreciated, not felt. It was polite with gentleman's gloves on, rather than passion. No doubt, many would love the well constructed nature of the recording and think the ones I prefer overblown, but that's what individual tastes are all about. Really, on a given day, I might actually prefer that recording myself. As an example, I appreciated, but really didn't get Bach. Then, on one particularly stressful day, I put on Art of the Fugue, with the Emerson Quartet, and, as I allowed my mind to flow with the music's graceful structures and textures, I was transformed. Something like Mahler's No. 9 might have left me an emotional mess that day.

              As for what I look for in the concluding movement of the great No. 4, I'm going have to put this in very individual, non-musical terms, because I have little background in the technical aspects of music, other than playing clarinet in my high school orchestra decades ago. In other words, I'm not the expert whatsoever. Still, I like my Shostakovich to really set up the contrasts between things like his comic, almost playful, sound to his more ominous, dark side. For instance, I like the funeral march music to be slow and plodding, setting up a foundation for what is to come. A faster tempo would be a movement killer in my eyes. One of the things I most enjoy about the third movement, and really about Shostakovich, is the interplay/contrast between humaneness and dark, foreboding forces. In this movement, I like the innocence interrupted at first faintly by underlying textures which indicate the lurking darkness as if looming and unpreventable, then build to a furiosity that reaches out and grabs you by the throat, leading to an almost otherworldly capituation to the reality of what is.

              I know I did a mediocre job of answering your question, but, truth be told, I have the hardest time explaining music.
              Last edited by Danbry39; 10 July 2007, 00:51 Tuesday.


              • #8
                Not a mediocre job !

                Hi Keith,

                you certainly did not do a mediocre job with your answer to my question !
                I think your description of what the music can convey is very good, and I much agree - I'd have to do a thorough analysis of that movement if to decide further, but hey, I prefer to not do such type of analysis unless I have to attempt a counter-argument to some-one who has substantially misunderstood or misrepresented that music to un-aware hopeful listeners.
                Really I like that you like it so much !
                Also, you are certainly more eloquent than I am, with my limited vocabulary.
                Usually I listen, and absorb the effects over time and repeated playings, and the music forms sense in my head, but I don't always have words for it.

                One reviewer very much liked they way Haitink conducted the final fade-out, but didn't comment on any of H. with the bulk of the work.
                Barshai, good as he is with some things I've heard, apparently takes the Finale too fast.
                Pity about the Naxos, as it has a nice picture on the cover of the single CD.
                Slovak on Naxos apparently does the Finale of #5 at the correct slow tempo and in the style Shostakovich apparently intended, but the reviewer of both says Barshai does such also, and is better elsewhere.
                Of the Haitink recordings I have heard, I think his of #8 is truely great, even though different to Mravinsky's also great versions.
                I liked Haitink's #9 - more humour than some expect of Haitink, though quite droll in places, and it suits the music there.
                I liked his #11, and particually his #15.
                I'll have to hear his #6 again to remember.
                I did not like his #5, but I don't like 5 usually, other than part of Previn's first recording - with LSO on RCA - and Kertez's on Decca, though both take the Finale too fast for all the relevant effects it seems to have written into it.

                I'll post more about Shostakovich when I get another version of #4, and Maxim S's complete cycle - soon I hope.

                I agree with how you describe the effect of what an emphatic performance of a Bach fugue can achieve.
                Shostakovich said how much he liked Bach's music, and indeed he seemed muh taken with Passacaglias -{spelling ?}-, having then composed and commented on those parts in his works.

                One of my sisters played the clarinet !
                {quite well, and she says she's given it to her daughter to learn now - so one day I may ask for some Brahms !}.

                As you have mentioned both Barshai and Mahler, I will start a Thread about what seems to me extraordinary performances by B. of two of M's symphonies, as soon as I can get some more computer time.
                Last edited by 2bluechris; 17 July 2007, 09:21 Tuesday. Reason: correct a spelling mistake


                • #9
                  I am looking forward to your posts on Mahler, I am ashamed to admit my procrastination, but I have yet to acquire any of this composer’s work! My mentor, Rod Nicholas, is a retired luthier, had recommended Mahler’s 1st, 3rd, 7th and 9th over two years ago, and I still don't have any.

                  I better get my but in gear, so I can follow and maybe contribute to your observations.


                  Practicing Curmudgeon & Audio Snob
                  ....just an "ON" switch, Please!



                  • #10
                    Hi wkhanna,

                    I am not an expert on Mahler, though I have researched some about his works, and heard various, from which I can comment on works and performances I like.
                    My intention was to start a thread to discuss the recordings of two of his symphonies following my purchase of what seems to me exceptional performances of those by Barshai with the Junge Deutsche Philharmonie.
                    As you have listed four others of Mahler's, I think such may be better discussed in a separate thread about recordings of Mahler's symphonies in general, and I am quite happy to start one, thus do look for a thread Title which indicates such -I'll start it as soon as time available to.

                    There is a logic in the suggestion to listen in order to 1 ; 3 ; 7 ; 9 , and this may be wise for a listener who has not heard any of Mahler's, or only a difficult one such as #5 seems to be, other than its popular Adagio movement, however if one has heard and liked some good quality Classical compositions from after the time of Mahler, then one can start with other of his symphonies, in particular #7 [out of sequence}, and #10.

                    As you have opened and read a thread about a Shostakovich symph. , I am thinking you may like that work, or are interested in it following hearing others of Shostakovich's, and if so you can start with Mahler's 7th or 10th with no worry.
                    Shostakovich admired Mahler's skills as a composer, and liked some of his works, and thus if you like some of Shostakovich's longer works which contain distinct changes in dynamics and tempi, and various degrees of sparseness versus density, then do obtain and listen to this particular Mahler/Barshai #10, but read first my post about it in its specific thread so that you can have at least a starting point to decide from.

                    Your by-line :-

                    just an "ON" switch, Please.

                    I agree with this, almost entirely, and did post once in the Rotel forum a request for a version of their 1062 amplifier with all the automation taken out, as such is unneccessary clutter which I do not use and which will likely develop a fault perhaps rendering the amp otherwise inoperable long before its basic amplifying functions are worn out.
                    Apparently Rotel staff occasionally read the forum, but I don't know if the company will take any notice.
                    Given the number of posts there about malfunctioning automation features in the H.T. products and similar, I do not intend to buy a Rotel which has any automation - a pity because I like the sound of their basic amplifiers, and for now am keeping my non-automated RA-01.

                    regards, Chris.
                    Last edited by 2bluechris; 18 July 2007, 06:49 Wednesday. Reason: can't get Enhanced Mode to copy wkhanna's choice of letters' styles in the Quote !


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