Classical Reviews

This week our Classical reviewer Geoff Adams listens to Shostakovich's Symphonies 5 and 9, and Cesar Franck's String Quartet.


> Shostakovich: Symphonies 5 and 9. Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. Naxos CD.

Conductor Vasily Petrenko guides outstanding playing from the Liverpool orchestra as part of his project to record the cycle of Shostakovich symphonies.

Symphony No.5, with its epic, tragic dimensions is probably most performed, while No.9 is more modest with playful, throwaway outer movements, a touch of circus the composer said: "musicians will like to play it, and critics will delight in blasting it".

Here the musicians' delight is well worth hearing.

The playing of the first three movements of the D minor No.5 is perhaps understated - too challenging for the musicians or the young conductor's reticence?

Some forceful satire against the Soviets is tamed, and the strings sound slightly thin in the Largo.

But well recorded.

Highlight: the finale of No.5 is packed with punch.


> Cesar Franck: String Quartet FWV9, Piano Quintet FWV 7. Fine Arts Quartet with Cristina Ortiz (piano). Naxos CD.

Franck's two major chamber works (his only quartet and only quintet) nicely cram this 79-minute disc.

The Fine Arts Quartet goes back 64 years since its birth in Chicago.

Since 1985 it has recorded more than 65 works.

Three of its members have been with the group for over a quarter of a century and this rapport clearly shows in their performances.

The Quartet in D is a complex work, 43 minutes long, with many lovely themes that connect and return in the remarkable finale.

The Quintet in F minor was composed a decade earlier but could be regarded as the pinnacle of Franck's chamber music, a blend of French and German influences.

Highlight: charismatic Brazilian pianist adds a charge to the Quintet.



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