ALBUM TITLE: Shostakovich , Glanert
WORKS: Shostakovich: Symphony No. 10 Glanert: Theatrum bestiarum
PERFORMER: WDR Cologne SO/Semyon Bychkov
CATALOGUE NO: Avie AV 2137
While some recent interpreters, including Gustavo Dudamel at last year’s BBC Proms, have overstretched Shostakovich’s mighty opening Moderato into an interminable Adagio, Bychkov favours a refreshing directness. He doesn’t make much distinction, tempo-wise, between the opening material and the limping flute waltz – a quotation from, Boris Godunov, according to the melodramatic and badly-translated liner note, which is news to me, but the climax builds inexorably and with plenty of recorded clarity for shrilling woodwinds and inexorable bass lines. The second-movement Allegro (one always hesitates to call it a scherzo) and the last, edgy romp could do with just a little more spring, but there are achingly vocal contributions in the finale’s slow introduction from the Cologne first oboe, flute and bassoon. The liberating horn solo of the third movement – again, Boris is cited, but surely it’s the opening of Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde – is poetically played but could do with more space to register ultimately as a breath from another planet. The recording, like the performance, is detailed and clear but there isn’t quite the implied depth of truly great playing like the Leningrad Philharmonic’s under Mravinsky. Still, Bychkov’s is an interpretation one would be happy to have caught in concert. Detlev Glanert dedicated his Theatrum Bestiarum to Shostakovich, and shares his sarcastic way with popular dance music. Yet though the textures provide plenty of fascinating contrasts, strong musical ideas prove elusive and so, thanks to the composer’s oracular ambiguity in the booklet interview, does the idea behind the work.