Ancerl Gold Edition 23 - Shostakovich: Symphony No 7 "Leningrad"

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Despite the aging mono sonics (a touch constricted but otherwise perfectly clear and well balanced) Karel Ancerl conducts as finely shaped and intensely musical an interpretation of this symphonic megalith as we have any right to expect. Leave it to him, virtually alone among conductors, to realize that the great exordium following the "battle sequence" is not just the movement's dynamic climax, but also is the recapitulation of its opening themes. Ancerl accordingly treats the passage as a gradual accelerando back to Tempo I when most conductors hold back for "expressive" effect. The result not only increases the music's dramatic tension and urgency, but it also gives this sprawling movement an uncommon amount of structural strength.

The Scherzo flows pertly with typically terrific wind playing, while Ancerl wrings every drop of feeling from the long Adagio, its climax perfectly placed. He also builds the finale to a grandiose but never annoying or merely banal conclusion, and with amazing finesse gets through the dead acreage before the final build-up. The tangy tones of the Czech Philharmonic ensure that even the first movement's oft-repeated "invasion" theme sports an unusually enticing range of timbres and colors. The sonic limitations obviously mean that this recording won't be a first version of the "Leningrad" Symphony for most collectors--for that go to Bernstein (DG) or Järvi (Chandos)--but if you enjoy the work, or think it's nothing but a bombastic potboiler, Ancerl and his orchestra's supreme musicianship might just change your mind.
--David Hurwitz,

Product Description:

  • Catalog Number: SU3683-2

  • UPC: 099925368326

  • Label: Supraphon

  • Composer: Dmitri Shostakovich

  • Conductor: Karel Ancerl

  • Orchestra/Ensemble: Czech Philharmonic Orchestra