Shostakovich: Symphony No. 5; Hamlet Suite

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Shostakovich
LABELS: RCA Classical Navigator
WORKS: Symphony No. 5; Hamlet Suite
PERFORMER: LSO/André Previn, Belgian RSO/José Serebrier
CATALOGUE NO: 74321 24212 2 ADD/DDD (1965/86)
Always a frontrunner during the LP era, Previn’s Shostakovich Five seems to have weathered the test of time and must be regarded as an extremely enticing proposition, especially at budget price. It’s a highly charged interpretation encompassing an impressively conceived opening movement, a suitably malevolent Scherzo and an impassioned Largo. Only in the closing pages of an exciting finale does Previn lose his grip, opting for empty bombast rather than bold defiance. The suite from the film music to Hamlet is a generous and imaginative coupling, even if both music and orchestral playing don’t really match the quality of the symphony. Erik Levi