Shostakovich Complete Symphonies and Concertos

 

Shostakovich Complete Symphonies and Concertos box set. Recorded 2013 and 2014 at the Salle Pleyel, Paris.Valery Gergiev conducts the Orchestra and Chorus of the Mariinsky Theatre. The following is a complete list of the works and the soloists who appear:

Blu-ray 1

  • Symphony No. 1 in F minor, Op. 10
  • Symphony No. 2 in B major, “To October”, for orchestra with mixed chorus, Op. 14
  • Symphony No. 4 in C minor, Op. 43
  • Symphony No. 9 in E flat major, Op. 70
  • Symphony No. 15 in A major, Op. 141
  • Concerto for Piano, String Orchestra and Trumpet No. 1 in C minor, Op. 35 / Daniil Trifonov (piano), Timur Martynov (trumpet)
  • Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No. 2 in F major, Op. 102 / Denis Matsuev (piano)

Blu-ray 2

  • Symphony No. 3 in E flat major, “The First of May”, for orchestra with mixed chorus, Op. 20
  • Symphony No. 6 in B minor, Op. 54
  • Symphony No. 10 in E minor, op. 93
  • Symphony No. 13 in B flat minor, “Babi Yar”, for bass, bass chorus and orchestra, Op. 113 / Mikhail Petrenko (bass), Male Chorus of the Mariinsky Theatre
  • Concerto for Violoncello and Orchestra No. 1 in E flat major, Op. 107 / Gautier Capuçon (violoncello)
  • Concerto for Violoncello and Orchestra No. 2 in G major, Op. 126 / Mario Brunello (violoncello)

Blu-ray 3

  • Symphony No. 7 in C major, “Leningrad”, Op. 60
  • Symphony No. 11 in G minor, “The Year 1905”, Op. 103
  • Concerto for Violin and Orchestra No. 1 in A minor, Op. 77 (originally published as Op. 99) / Vadim Repin (violin)
  • Concerto for Violin and Orchestra No. 2 in C sharp minor, Op. 129 / Alena Baeva (violin)

Blu-ray 4

  • Symphony No. 5 in D minor, Op. 47
  • Symphony No. 8 in C minor, Op. 65
  • Symphony No. 12 in D minor, “The Year 1917”, Op. 112
  • Symphony No. 14, for soprano, bass and chamber orchestra, Op. 135 / Veronika Dzhioeva (soprano), Mikhail Petrenko (bass)
  • Special Feature Dmitri Shostakovich – A Man of Many Faces. Documentary film by Reiner Moritz (2015)

This set has introductions to compositions by Gergiev. And for those who don't want to listen to Gergiev, there is a "Play Music Only Function" that gives you just the music. Directed for TV by Don Kent. Released 2015, set has 5.0 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA

A huge amount of work went into this monumental box. Gergiev and the Mariinksy Orchestra have the potential to play this music as well as anyone in the world. We see no indication what sound-sampling specs were used to record this, so it was probably done at 48-kHz/24-bit. This is not state-of-the-art, but can produce fine results when coupled with the lossless sound output provided.

The rub will be whether the video is good. This set is also being published in DVD, which raises the very real possibility that the whole thing in Blu-ray may be infected with DVDitis. We already have an HDVD from Gergiev and the Mariinksy Orchestra of three Tchaikovsky symphonies made at the Pleyel. The video on that set (from Andy Sommer) was so bad we gave it an "F" grade.

Don Kent is the videographer for this Shostakovich set, but Kent has no Blu-ray recording to his credit so far of symphony music. (Kent has had spectacular success with his recent opera recordings such as The Fairy Queen  and Hippolyte and Aricice.) We just watched a PR video on MDT for this set. The PQ looked great. But, alas, we saw a lot of symptoms of DVDitis including short clips with a fast pace, small groups of players in the big band, instrument only shots, shots of Gergiev made over the backs of musicians, and that spy-cam they have at the Pleyel. Of course, we can't form an opinion based on a PR video, but what we saw was not encouraging.

This will be an expensive set. For lack of decent video, we fear it may be in its Blu-ray form an obsolete dodo on the day it's released. Well, if the video  is ruined by DVDitis, you can turn off the picture and just listen.