Shostakovich: Symphony No. 10 in E minor, Op. 93
Like Bernard Haitink, who conducted the Royal Concergebouw Orchestra before him, Mariss Jansons can go on recording his takes on Mahler and Shostakovich to infinity, and his followers will still buy the CDs. And why not, when the playing is as handsome as this? Perhaps you should own a couple of tougher Tenths before indulging in the deluxe version. This is still a symphonic tragedy, but one that happens to a lady in furs rather than a creative artist in a threadbare suit. The string playing is sinuous and assured and the nuances of first flute and clarinet are wondrous, underlined by superb engineering.
I am less impressed by the horn cry in the third movement. It’s surely more significant as a quotation of the opening of Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde than as the musical signature of a love object, on which the liner note dwells. It’s good to see musical quotations in a CD booklet, but the writer is obsessed by the codes at the expense of the overall Symphony, and the conclusion about the conclusion – it’s tragic and horrific, apparently – isn’t one that many readers or interpreters would buy, Jansons least of all. What I miss in his interpretation is any sense of pushing to the edge. Everything he does helps immaculate articulation; it can be fierce, but it’s never wild. If you want to experience a Shostakovich Ten as beautiful sound, this is the recording for you, but it’s not by any means the full story.