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Dmitry Shostakovich: Symphony No. 13 in B flat minor, Op. 113, "Babi Yar"
I. Babi Yar: Adagio
II. Yumor (Humor): Allegretto
III. V Magazine (At the Store): Adagio
IV. Strachi (Fears): Largo
V. Kariera (Career): Allegretto
“Wigglesworth immediately extends his spacious authority, in a cycle which so far deserves respect and admiration… Jan-Hendrik Rootering… goes farther than any bass I've heard… in introspective warmth of phrasing at the heart of the Symphony. …the professional weight of Simon Halsey's Netherlands Radio Choir basses brings burnished focus to savage indignation, eased only by tender Netherlands Philharmonic soloists in the final balm of grace.”
“If all that mattered in Shostakovich's 13th was the Babi Yar setting that first motivated it, then there would be reason to approach Mark Wigglesworth's recording with caution. That long first movement sags, because he has tipped the balance slightly too far away from frightening immediacy in favour of philosophical reflection. The first entries of chorus and soloist feel a bit soggy. Yet hearing their chillingly full-blooded contributions later, it's possible to go back and appreciate that there is profound careworn sadness behind their delivery of the opening, rather than mere tentativeness. Their Russian is as plausible as anything heard from non-native speakers. And since the 'voice' behind the solo voice is Shostakovich's as much as Yevtushenko's, it's not inappropriate that Jan-Hendrik Rootering should sound prematurely aged. More than usually, the line 'I feel I am gradually going grey' feels like a key moment. The Netherlands Radio PO do not have quite the muscle for the biggest climaxes in Babi Yar or for the scalding irony of 'Humour'. But they certainly rise to the challenge of the remaining movements, so often anti-climactic but which here make the deepest impression. Wigglesworth has plenty of ideas about timing and articulation, and they are of a piece with a powerful overall view. In the faster movements, admittedly, he doesn't yet have the knack of showing all this without losing momentum, but in the slower ones his subtle moulding of phrase and texture pays huge dividends. 'In the Store' plumbs depths of sadness and compassion, and even Rootering's less than infallible steadiness of tone feels like part and parcel of the same conception. 'Fears' and 'A Career' seemingly come from somewhere beyond the experiences they describe. This, then, is a performance in which you feel the presence of a lyrical commentator throughout, rather than being in the grip of some overwhelming larger force. Softgrained but marvellously spacious recording.”
“…a performance in which you feel the presence of a lyrical commentator throughout, rather than being in the grip of some overwhelming larger force. Soft-grained but marvellously spacious recording.”
“Wigglesworth brings out the grotesque elements in the score - the first few bars alone are deliciously eerie and the climax of the first movement is shattering - and Jan-Hendrik Rootering is a commanding soloist who makes the outrage and frustration of the texts powerfully believable...Shostakovich at his most devastating.”
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