Shostakovich: Symphony No 10

Blair Anderson
AllMusic Guide (US)

Among Dmitri Shostakovich's most enigmatic works, the Symphony No. 10 in E minor, Op. 93, is open to various interpretations. Despite general acceptance of the immense, brooding first movement as one of the composer's symphonic "requiems," the identification of the brutal second movement as a scathing portrait of Stalin, and the use of the DSCH motive (D-E flat-C-B) as an important autobiographical clue, this work still has not disclosed all its secrets, and renditions can vary widely in emphasis. This performance by Alexander Anissimov and the Australian Youth Orchestra underscores the bleakness at the heart of the score, and the music's austerity is effectively communicated through the ensemble's chilly tone, blunt accentuation, and harsh timbres: it's hard to imagine a more severe reading. And while the Allegretto and the Finale may be presented as lighter movements in other performances, they seem especially sardonic and edgy here, probably out of an effort to maintain consistency with the dark and nihilistic mood established at the outset.

The multi-channel sound of this SACD is full and the dynamic range is wide, so every detail in this live recording can be heard clearly ... the excellence of the playing ... is astonishing for such a young orchestra.