The music of Dmitri Shostakovich has certainly arrived on multichannel recordings. Though the advanced-resolution catalog is small, Shostakovich takes up a great portion of it. The composers colorful orchestration is appealing to SACD and DVD-A producers, giving those formats with higher resolution a reason to shine. The PentaTone recordings are the beginning of a complete cycle in which different maestros will conduct the Russian National Orchestra. The BIS Wigglesworth disc is also part of a cycle that has used different orchestras with the same conductor.
Both of the PentaTone discs are dandy, especially the Jurowski. This young maestro is a very impressive leader who totally gets both the drama and lyricism in this music. The longer cantilena lines really sing, and the dramatic parts zing. The recording is close-up and has excellent presence. Balances are outstanding, including the tricky-to-record piano in the First Symphony. But if you dont have SACD, this is still a good version to buy, as the CD layer produces sound quite a bit above average.
The Russian musicians play Symphony No.11 to perfection. Pletnev goes for the jugular in his dramatic reading, and some of the climaxes are hair-raising. Once in a while a tempo seems a little odd, but never enough to write this performance off as anything but excellent. Wigglesworths BIS recording seems pale in comparison to the two PentaTones. His reading is not as taut as it could be, the orchestra is not quite as good, and the recorded sound is rather distant and somewhat lacking in presence.
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