Recording of the Year

Symphonies Nos 4 and 11
Boston Symphony Orchestra
Deutsche Grammophon 4835220 (2CD)

Deutsche Grammophon couples the opposite sides of the Soviet composer’s polemics to devastating effect

“Of course, we know the background of the fourth symphony. It is chilling to know that if he would have performed it at that point in time, he would have most likely been sent to a camp or executed.”  Andris Nelsons

Shostakovich’s Fourth Symphony is a challenge to pull off; shy away from the wild-eyed expressionism and it’s a hectoring bore but going all out is a risk – when it works it’s a helter-skelter ride but if it fails, full of sound and fury signifying nothing. Nelsons had me riveted from the get go. The precision of rhythmic control coupled to expressive phrasing that speaks, as well as his grasp of the tectonic structure,...