Shostakovich: Symphonies Nos 6 & 9 (BBC NOW) – Orchestra – Reviews

Shostakovich
Symphonies Nos. 6 and 9
BBC National Orchestra of Wales/Steven Lloyd-Gonzalez
First hand FHR120 60:18 min

Each unique in its symphonic structure, these two symphonies are as remarkable as the other true masterpieces of Shostakovich’s canon (4, 8, 10 and the last three). With a conductor I didn’t know – Steven Lloyd-Gonzalez – and an orchestra that didn’t always blaze as it should, I feared a possible wasted opportunity. How wrong I was: the sonic directivity of the start of the Sixth is among the best – most recently Paavo Järvi and the Estonian Festival Orchestra – and Lloyd-Gonzalez does not miss a trick or a dynamic in the encyclopedia of moods and contrasts by Shostakovich. .

The BBC National Orchestra of Wales has never been in better shape, helped by the stunning production by Andrew Walton and Debs Spanton at the BBC Hoddinott Hall in Cardiff. A special halo may have been placed around the strings, but you can’t just create a horn playing of full-throated magnificence like this, nor the nuances of superb wind soloists (E-flat and other clarinets , flute, bassoon). There’s only one tempo I would disagree with – the slower than –moderato rhythm for the second movement of the ninth, which turned out to run at a relatively fast speed in the best recordings when I did a BBC Radio 3 Build a library on this symphony. No doubt about it, however, this one would have been among the best, and the articulation of the central Presto is amazing; so are the contrasts between the heartache of the great first movement of the Sixth and the comic-grotesque antics that follow.

David Nice

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