Shostakovich: Symphony No. 13 - Karabits

Shostakovich: Symphony No. 13 - Karabits

PentaTone Classics  PTC 5186618

Stereo/Multichannel Hybrid

Classical - Orchestral

Shostakovich: Symphony No. 13

Oleg Tsibulko, bass
Popov Academy of Choral Arts Choir
Kozhevnikov Choir
Russian National Orchestra
Kirill Karabits, conductor


The Russian National Orchestra continues its Shostakovich cycle with Symphony No. 13, “Babi Yar”, together with bass Oleg Tsibulko, the Popov Academy of Choral Arts Choir, the Kozhevnikov choir and maestro Kirill Karabits. Inspired by Yevgeny Yevtushenko’s poem “Babi Yar” about a Nazi massacre of Jews just outside Kiev in 1941, Shostakovich based the Symphony on five of the author’s poems. The texts reflect on the peculiarities of daily existence in Stalinist Russia, providing a deep insight into life under Soviet reign. After the sombre, impressive opening movement, Shostakovich alternates between a satirical stance, humour, and portraying the hardships of the Stalinist reality, leading up to the innocent beauty of the symphony’s finale. One special aspect of this recording is the Russian National Orchestra’s collaboration with an Ukrainian bass soloist and conductor, underlining the shared cultural and political heritage of both countries.

The Russian National Orchestra is among the most important orchestras in the world and has a vast, multi-award-winning PENTATONE discography. Kirill Karabits features on Tchaikovsky Treasures (2019) with Guy Braunstein and the BBC Symphony Orchestra. Oleg Tsibulko, the Popov Academy of Choral Arts Choir and the Kozhevnikov choir all make their PENTATONE debut.

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DSD recording
Comments (11)

Comment by philip edwards - July 22, 2020 (1 of 11)

An excellent performance and a truly superb recording, ticking all my boxes: very clear and stable image, deep perspective and a thrilling bass response. Listen to the start of movement 4 (Fears) to see how well and eerily the low timpani are caught. Huge dynamic range and an excellent and very clear soloist. I may be easy to please but this comes close to perfection in my book.

Comment by Marcus DiBenedetto - July 9, 2022 (2 of 11)

I just discovered this piece of music. David Hurwitz released a YouTube video discussing choral music, including the Shostakovich Symphony. "Repertoire: 16 Amazing Vocal Symphonies", ( This album, recorded in DXD in November, 2017 and released in 2020, is as Russian as you can get. Reviews are excellent (many are listed on the Presto site). I can attest to the great sonics (in surround). Deep bass vocals and many bass instruments. I downloaded it in DXD from Native DSD. Fanfare Magazine writes: "Karabits conducts incisively, with the accent on drama...Tsibulko’s singing is first-rate, as is the orchestra’s playing, especially from the brass, who are encouraged to snarl. The powerful male choruses of native Russian speakers surpass any Western chorus for clarity and diction, not to mention authenticity. Pentatone’s recorded sound is beautifully transparent and lifelike." I concur whole heartedly. Other reviews are similarly praiseworthy.

Finally, a male chorus and bass soloist. What a great find for me!

Marcus DiBenedetto
Las Vegas, NV

Comment by hiredfox - July 22, 2022 (3 of 11)

Kiril Karabits is our Chief Conductor at the Bournemouth Symphony and we heard this music live last season. It remains a mystery to me why he didn't record with his own orchestra rather than the Russian players (Covid-19 restrictions cited by our CEO).

It is never-the-less a very fine recording and I have congratulated Kiril to that effect.

Comment by Steven Harrison - July 25, 2022 (4 of 11)

HF, remember the Pentatone Shostakovich recordings were originally stated to be recorded by the Russian National Orchestra with different conductors. A few years ago when there had been no new recordings for a spell I wrote to Pentatone about this series. The reply stated that they were having difficulties finding conductors.
Now with the current state of geopolitics concerning Russia, one can only wonder if there will be any more recordings in this series. Yet to be done are symphonies 2. 3. 12 and 14. Perhaps Pentatone will need to change the original parameters of only using the Russian National Orchestra.

Comment by hiredfox - July 26, 2022 (5 of 11)

There is no question that the Russian National Orchestra is a very fine orchestra indeed, as many will recall each player was hand picked by Mikhail Pletnev back in the '90's. I never really understood why a roster of conductors was necessary for this survey especially when one considers the superb Tchaikovsky set that they recorded together a few years ago.

The suggestion that conductors could not be found to complete the series sounds hollow. What were the criteria? Did there need to be a Russian connection?

Berglund was hardly that as a Finn, Kreizberg was to all intent and purposes an American and Karabits a proud citizen of Kiev.

You are probably correct in your assertion that this survey may never be completed but does it matter that much? Taken as a whole it seems to me to be of patchy and variable quality depending upon the conductor used and not really collectible except as individual recordings depending upon taste. There are much stronger candidates in the SACD catalogue.

OK, I have them all and no doubt completists like you and me may have invested more in Pentatone's fabled DSD recording quality than in the performances themselves.

Comment by Steven Harrison - July 26, 2022 (6 of 11)

HF, The comment about conductors came from Giel Bessels. So it was awhile ago as he is now retired.
I clearly remember the stated intention by Pentatone with this series that they wanted to do things differently.
Yes, it would nice to have them all. FWIW, I have liked them all thus far, for the sound quality if nothing else. In looking at the list of sacd sets, there are only a few. Oleg Caetani did them all in the mid 00's. There is the Kitajenko set, also from the 00's. The BIS Wigglesworth set was not all recorded as sacd. The Marinski set did not get completed. LSO looks to be doing them now, but have a long ways to go.

Comment by Graham Williams - July 30, 2022 (7 of 11)

You did not include the Kofman set on MDG with the Beethoven Orchester Bonn. Good performances, but the sound quality was nothing special.

Comment by Marcus DiBenedetto - July 30, 2022 (8 of 11)

An interesting conversation. I have all the Pentatone releases now. This one (#13) is recorded in DXD, and my favorite, while all the others are recorded in DSD64. I like them all and think the sonics are excellent. I agree with SH that geopolitics (sigh) will likely prevent more releases. A real shame. Järvi's #7 is also excellent in my opinion. Rotating conductors is not a bad idea. I greatly respect HF's thoughts but I think the RNO, to me, has an insight into these symphonies.

Comment by Steven Harrison - July 30, 2022 (9 of 11)

Ah, completely missed the Kofman's in every way.
I'm not exactly short of recordings of the Shostakovich symphonies with the Rostropovich and Ashkenazy rbcd box sets and numerous other recordings, mostly all sacd.

Comment by John Bacon-Shone - August 12, 2022 (10 of 11)

Although the Wigglesworth ones were not all originally released as SACD, the set is now available in a cheap SACD box.

Comment by Steven Harrison - August 12, 2022 (11 of 11)

Yes the Wigglesworth box is good value. And the recording data will be shown in the booklet.