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SACD Review

Dmitri Shostakovich

Symphony #8 in C minor, Op. 65

Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi/Oleg Caetani
Arts 47704-8 Hybrid Multichannel SACD 53m DDD
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This is the second release that has arrived at my door from Oleg Caetani's excellent Shostakovich cycle and after waxing lyrical over the 11th, I have similar plaudits to report on this magnificent Eighth.

Recorded live, this symphony comes alive in an apocalyptic manner that mirrors what was going on in Shostakovich's war torn Russia in the dark years of the war. Caetani cannot hope to match the authoritative brilliance of Kondrashin and Mravinsky but his account is surely one of the best available, adding the resplendent sonics to boot.

The expansive first movement receives a clear and direct account from Caetani and his orchestra who really are a crack symphonic ensemble, especially the characterful woodwinds. The three short inner movements are also dispatched with customary brilliance, with Caetani holding an iron grip on proceedings.

The final Allegretto receives what can only be termed as a spectacular reading and which makes the work culminate in magnificent fashion. The audience respond with heartfelt applause and the atmosphere inside the hall must have been electrifying.

The CD sound is quite ravishing and those lucky to have the SACD version may benefit from Multichannel sonic tricks that add to the enveloping intensity of proceedings. Great stuff then, and another unqualified recommendation from me with a heartfelt expectation for future issues in the cycle.

Copyright © 2005, Gerald Fenech