Shostakovich: Symphonies Nos 1 & 5

London Symphony Orchestra/Gianandrea Noseda (LSO Live)

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CD_LSO0802_Shostakovich

Shostakovich
Symphony No. 1 in F minor, Op. 10; Symphony No. 5 in D minor, Op. 47
London Symphony Orchestra/Gianandrea Noseda
LSO Live LSO0802   81:51 mins (2 discs)

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Here, in this third instalment of Gianandrea Noseda’s ongoing Shostakovich symphony cycle, are relatively straightforward yet brilliantly executed interpretations of two of the most familiar works. The Italian conductor is especially convincing in probing their darker recesses, as in the First Symphony’s Lento or the Fifth’s Largo. Despite the Barbican’s unforgivingly dry acoustic, Noseda generates a tremendous degree of atmosphere throughout the latter movement’s despairing lament, the LSO strings cutting through the texture with intense passion in the throbbing climaxes and with spine-tingling foreboding in icy cold pianissimos.

Perhaps the Fifth’s opening paragraph doesn’t sound quite as arresting as in the 2015 live recording from Andris Nelsons and the Boston Symphony on DG. Yet Noseda is just as effective as his Latvian colleague in negotiating the tricky accelerando into the ominous middle section, and the recording captures the percussive piano and rasping lower brass with great immediacy. Even more memorable are the disembodied closing bars of the first movement which sound especially haunting here.

Noseda’s deadpan approach works well in highlighting the mock triumphalism of the coda to the Fifth’s finale. However, it is less convincing in the Fifth’s Scherzo and the first two movements of the First which are a bit too straitlaced, understating the caustic wit that is just as essential an ingredient in Shostakovich’s musical armoury as his emotional angst.

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Erik Levi