The best recordings of Shostakovich's Symphony No. 7 'Leningrad'

Shostakovich's Leningrad Symphony is one of his most magnificent, but what are the best recordings?

The best recordings of Shostakovich's Symphony No. 7 'Leningrad'

Before it’s astonishing 9 August 1942 performance, in the city to which it is dedicated, Shostakovich’s mighty Seventh Symphony actually received its world premiere in Kuybyshev with the Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra on 5 March 1942.

It’s a sensational masterpiece and oft-recorded. But, what are the very best recordings? Here are some to start with…


NBC Symphony Orchestra/Arturo Toscanini 
Opus Kura OPK7050 

A performance that Shostakovich is said to have felt was unsatisfactory, but an essential document in the work’s history: this was the performance that was broadcast across the US on 19 July 1942. 




Chicago Symphony Orchestra/Leonard Bernstein 
DG 477 7587 

Bernstein conducts a riveting, utterly cinematic, no-holds-barred performance that captures in vivid details the extremities of violence and tenderness in Shostakovich’s most epic symphony.




St Petersburg Philharmonic/Yuri Temirkanov 
Signum SIGCD194 

Temirkanov’s orchestra is the one that Shostakovich knew and loved. And there’s a searing imagination as well as an indelible sense of connection and commitment here. 




Russian National Orchestra/Paavo Järvi 
Pentatone PTC5186511 

Järvi’s recent recording is one of the most powerful of recent performances, combining a meticulous ear for detail and colour with a thrilling realisation of the symphony’s dark drama and implacable intensity.




Mariinsky Orchestra/Valery Gergiev 
Mariinsky MAR0533 

Gergiev brings his feverish, in-the-moment inspiration to this performance, but the work’s overall narrative never suffers, even at his broad speeds, and the final climax is a thrilling revelation of triumph wrought from tragedy.


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