It is instructive to note these identical couplings of the Second and Twelfth symphonies by Shostakovich in these concurrent symphonic cycles by two enterprising German labels, Arts and MD&G. Additionally, EMI's eternally drawn out set with Mariss Janssons which started in the late 1980's also has this coupling but this was not provided for review by that rather stingy label.
If one compares timings on these two discs, it is clear that Caetani is by far the fastest, walloping off almost four minutes from the mystical 'Razliv' movement of the 12th, although both Kofman's more thoughtful approach and the Italian's pay dividends. I rather enjoyed the superb sound meted out by both SACDs in the aptly titled 'Dawn of Humanity' which concludes this work in triumphant fashion, although Caetani's, being live, has that added energy to his performance.
The 2nd is a rather shorter affair although the music is no less innovative and forward reaching in its three dimensional portrayal of the Communist working class. Both conductors find successful options here although they pale considerably when compared to such giants in the repertoire as Kondrashin or the very much underrated Rudolf Barshai in his superb set on Brilliant Classics that is an incredible bargain.
However, followers of one or both of these excellently recorded and finely annotated cycles need not hesitate in the least to purchase. I am now looking forward to comparing the 3rd and 14th which are already out on Arts but which I am told will be Volume 7 on MD&G.
Copyright © 2007, Gerald Fenech