This is a very exciting reading of this troubling work, with the ironic dance moments strongly underlined and a truly Russian flavor in the many exposed wind solos. It is, in general, a grand, operatic performance, with the strings singing brilliantly, and each movement packing a wallop. The work's underlying darkness is never slighted, even when there's a boastfulness in the presentation of the grand sounds. The first movement's fugue seems positively Classical in its formality, contrasting with the two big false climaxes. Sadly, the Kirov Orchestra's playing is under par--perhaps they got emotionally caught up in the experience of playing a symphony banned by Stalin in 1935 and forgotten for 30 years--and the recording is filled with distortion in the big moments in the final movement. For a great performance of this work, check out Ormandy's. --Robert Levine
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