Oleg Caetani's Shostakovich cycle for Arts is fast turning into one of the most desirable ones around. This issue of the epic 11th coincides with a host of other ongoing cycles including Mariss Janssons on EMI and Roman Kofman's on MD&G but Caetani certainly holds his own amongst these newcomers.
The first movement is titled, 'The Palace Square' and is full of that dark mystery that is so characteristic of the composer. I was quite bowled over by the intensity of the Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi's playing here with a recording that is quite excellent on all counts.
The energetic second movement depicting the bloody events of the 9th of January is perhaps slightly too cool and collected and has nothing to do with the classic accounts by Kondrashin and Mravinsky but Caetani is still very cultured and mannered in his approach, aided by splendid playing from the Milan orchestra.
In the Adagio, there is some soul searching playing which is perfectly spotlighted by the lovely recording and I would rate this movement as the high point of the recording. All comes spectacularly to a close with the glorious, 'Tocsin' that literally smashes its way to the finish line.
Ettore Napoli provides some excellently researched notes whilst I have already indicated that the recording is excellent, one can only imagine what it sounds like on SACD as I currently only have normal stereo equipment. I have just heard that Arts have issued a new version of the Eighth by the same forces and I am eagerly looking forward to listening to that one.
Copyright © 2005, Gerald Fenech