Shostakovich Symphony Nos. 9 & 12
The Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra
“Mark Wigglesworth’s Shostakovich cycle has been gathering momentum without compromising its particular characteristics of high seriousness, fine detailing and a certain fierceness of articulation.”
David Gutman, Gramophone Magazine, December 2007
“The latest instalment in Mark Wigglesworth’s ongoing survey of Shostakovich’s symphonies offers many of the virtues that were apparent in some of his earlier releases. Apart from outstanding demonstration sound which is more than a match for the impressive SACD set from Kitajenko and Gürzenich Orchestra on Capriccio, there is the impressive orchestral playing of the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic boasting both incisive ensemble and distinctive individual contributions.
Admittedly Wigglesworth doesn’t go for the jugular in these symphonies to the same extent as Kondrashin or Mravinsky. Indeed few conductors rival the latter in managing to generate the maximum amount of visceral excitement out of the first movement of the 12th. But if Wigglesworth’s interpretation operates at a lower level of intensity, he makes a more conscious effort to weld the work’s diffuse structure into a convincing whole. In this respect I was particularly taken with the brooding and atmospheric account of ‘Razliv’, a movement that usually strikes me as being directionless and repetitive. Wigglesworth is also impressive in building up a considerable head of steam through the crescendo of ‘Aurora’. Even the finale seems more coherent than normal, perhaps because Wigglesworth resists the temptation to over-inflate the musical argument.
If the first movement of the Ninth seems playful rather than sarcastic, Wigglesworth’s fine ear for orchestral sonority always brings out unusual elements in the scoring. His insights make this performance and that of the 12th well worth hearing, and an extremely viable alternative to the complete cycles that are delivered under the direction of Kitajenko, Kondrashin or Jansons.”
Erik Levi, BBC Music Magazine, December 2007
“Shostakovich’s Twelfth Symphony may not be his best, but it certainly doesn’t lack for excellent performances, and this is certainly one of the very finest. The work poses few interpretive problems: it needs to be played hard, fast, and loud, with as much ensemble precision as possible. That’s exactly what Mark Wiggleworth does. There are moments here that no other version comes close to matching: the final climax of the first movement, the fusillade of symphonic gunfire that leads into the finale, and much of the latter, including the coda, equaled only by Mravinsky. Wigglesworth’s nicely flowing tempo in the shadowy second movement also works perfectly, sustaining interest while giving shape to this subdued music…This is definitely worth hearing. If you don’t like the piece to begin with, this recording just may change your mind.”
David Hurwitz, Classics Today, December 2007