Shostakovich: Symphony No. 7 - Noseda
LSO Live LSO0859
Classical - Orchestral
Shostakovich: Symphony No. 7
London Symphony Orchestra
Gianandrea Noseda (conductor)
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Review by Graham Williams - February 22, 2022
Gianandrea Noseda’s gradually emerging cycle of Shostakovich symphonies with the London Symphony Orchestra has now reached its fifth volume with this latest release of the composer’s Symphony No. 7 in C major Op. 60 known as the ‘Leningrad’. The events leading up to the work’s composition and its first performance are already so well chronicled that they do not need reiteration here, nor does the speculation among musicologists about the composer’s intentions in writing the symphony and its underlying ambiguity that became rife with the publication of Solomon Volkov’s book ‘Testimony’ in 1979.
This very impressive LSO Live release is just the latest in a number of recordings of the Symphony available in high resolution sound from which collectors may choose; thirteen are listed on this site though a number of those will be difficult to find.
Noseda’s performance opens with a welcome drive and authority that immediately captures the listener’s attention. In that respect he matches the unusually brisk and superbly recorded account from Paavo Järvi that is in complete contrast with the two recordings of the work from Valery Gergiev and his Mariinsky orchestra. Gergiev’s measured tempo (extremely measured in the case of his later recording) suggests a brooding unease well before the arrival of the banal ‘invasion theme’. Noseda is more lyrical at first, but with the LSO on blistering form he builds the movement’s central section to an appropriately shattering climax.
The two central movements benefit from Noseda’s scrupulous care with articulation and dynamics, and where some other versions struggle both emotionally and structurally that is not the case here, thanks to the excellence of the playing, especially from the woodwind and strings. The attacca finale with its many changing moods is a considerable challenge for any conductor and Noseda quickly elicits thrillingly energetic bite from his musicians. The mournful and reflective central section of this movement (7.17- 15.01), however, is too protracted with Noseda allowing the music to meander. Fortunately the tension is re-established in the build up to the work’s tumultuous closing pages which do not disappoint.
The performance was recorded live in DSD256 on 5th December 2019 at the Barbican by the usual Classic Sound team, who have mastered the difficult acoustic of the venue with considerable success. I did, however, detect a degree of congestion in the largest climaxes – hardly surprising with an orchestra of 100+ musicians on stage in a relatively small hall. Generally though the sound is spacious and clear with a wide dynamic range.
Those already investing in Noseda’s on-going and perceptive Shostakovich survey need not hesitate. Others may well wish to investigate the many viable alternatives on both CD and SACD before making their decision.
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