An Authentic Shostakovich Treasure Trove

A fine 12-CD collection conducted by one of the composer's peers.

Composer: Shostakovich
Repertoire: Complete Symphonies, Nos. 1-15
Artists: Soloists, choruses, National Symphony Orchestra of Washington, London Symphony Orchestra, Academic Symphony Orchestra/Rostropovich
Rating: 5/5

Genre: Orchestral
Label: Warner Classics 2564 64177-2

A London Symphony Orchestra member once summed up the late Mstislav Rostropovich to me: ‘He’s not a great conductor as such. But he can inspire us.’ This, after all, is the great cellist who, before his exile to the west, was a close friend of Shostakovich, so this set of the symphonies has real authority. The quality varies, certainly, but there isn’t a single dud – and the best performances are exceptional. The Eleventh Symphony (‘The Year 1905’) has Rostropovich and his Washington orchestra generating a level of non-stop intensity that almost had smoke coming out of my CD player. And the LSO too is on stellar form in the Tenth Symphony.