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Shostakovich: Symphony No 9, Violin Concerto No 1 (Kavakos) – The Mariinsky Label

Violin Concerto No 1

Choc Classica

Disc of the Week BBC Radio 3 CD Review

***** Performance ***** Recording BBC Music Magazine

***** 'Essential Listening' Classical Music Magazine

***** 'Gergiev and the Mariinsky Orchestra are on course to produce the definitive Shostakovich symphony cycle of our times.'
Classical Ear

  • Leonidas Kavakos violin

    Valery Gergiev conductor
    Mariinsky Orchestra

  • Total duration 63m31s

    Catalogue number MAR0524
    UPC 822231852421

    James Mallinson producer (Symphony No 9)
    Vladimir Ryabenko producer (Violin Concerto No 1)
    Vladimir Ryabenko engineering, editing, mixing & mastering

    Recorded June 2012 at the Mariinsky Concert Hall, St Petersburg

    Includes multi-channel 5.0 and stereo mixes.
    Notes in English / en Francais / auf Deutsch / на русском языке

  • Choc ‘This interpretation proves incredibly rich… tense with emotion.’

    Disc of the Week ‘A superb account of Shostakovich’s Violin Concerto No 1. St Petersburg is the venue with Leonidas Kavakos. He’s an ardent, thoughtful champion, passionately engaged with the piece, always willing to explore the shadows and with a tone that can change from sweetly persuasive to white hot in an instant. It sounds as though Gergiev and his Mariinsky players are thrilled to be part of the performance.’
    BBC Radio 3 CD Review

    ***** Performance ***** Recording
    ‘Leonidas Kavakos and Valery Gergiev establish a partnership of equals from the outset. This is a truly symphonic performance in which the Mariinsky Orchestra plays as active and vibrant a role in the musical dialogue as the soloist… In the Nocturne, Kavakos mesmerises the listener with the subtle poetry of his phrasing, and at the opposite end of the emotional spectrum, delivers a hard-hitting manic account of the Burlesque.’
    BBC Music Magazine

    ***** ‘Gergiev has again shone at the highest level with his formidable interpretations of Shostakovich’s works coming to the fore. A superb disc on all levels.’
    Fine Music Magazine

    ***** ‘The key work here is the concerto, intensely dramatic with dazzling, high-octane bravura from Kavakos. The range of colour and depth of projection captured here is essential listening, a notable new recording of a much-recorded work.’
    Classical Music Magazine

    ***** ‘Valery Gergiev and the Mariinsky Orchestra are on course to produce the definitive Shostakovich symphony cycle of our times, and this Ninth is no exception… The orchestra is (again) on fine form, complementing the soloist in many moments is exquisite beauty…Stunning.’
    Classical Ear

    ***** ‘Greek violinist Leonidas Kavakos gives a searing performance that does not stint on its communicative power and shock value.’
    The Straits Times

    ***** ‘The Ninth Symphony is expertly interpreted, as expected... [Shostakovich’s Violin Concerto No 1 features] the most talented violinist in recent years, Leonidas Kavakos, with the extraordinary orchestra directed by Valery Gergiev.’

    ****½ ‘On this album, the eminent conductor Valery Gergiev and his excellent Mariinsky Orchestra have produced one of the best Shostakovich nines ever committed to disc. Listening to this is like drinking water from a mountain spring. Every note is absolutely transparent. You will hear details you’ve never heard before — in no small measure helped by the album’s superb sound quality and engineering…This (Violin Concerto No 1) is a breathtakingly electric performance…Gergiev is one of the most compelling conductors on the planet. This album speaks to his immense talent and is a must-have in the library of Shostakovich aficionados and lovers of violin music.’
    Daily Review

    Performance ***** Sonics ****½ ‘An utterly compelling performance from the Greek violinist Leonidas Kavakos… The Scherzo and Burlesque are delivered with a blistering energy and panache that is matched by Gergiev's coruscating accompaniment and the fiercely incisive playing that he elicits from the Mariinsky Orchestra… the sound is both vivid and atmospheric. A splendid addition to Gergiev's emerging Shostakovich series.’ SA-CD.net

    ‘****½ ‘Passion and panache from old stager and former wunderkind’ LimelightMagazine.com

    **** ‘The performance [of the Ninth Symphony] is memorable, with the orchestra under the able baton of Valery Gergiev precise, driven, and deeply emotional. Gergiev and the Mariinsky Orchestra have established an enviable reputation with the music of Shostakovich, and this disc will only increase the praise the orchestra has already gained… an incisive and lovely performance [of the Violin Concerto], faultless to my ear. Once again we have a lovely recording.’
    Audiophile Audition

    Technique 4/5, SACD 4/5 ‘Leonidas Kavakos is impeccable when it comes to his mastery of the violin.’

    *** ‘Valery Gergiev’s new account is tonally full… Gergiev and soloist Leonidas Kavakos take some of the chill out of the altogether darker First Violin Concerto, where the poles are desolation and wildness.’
    The Irish Times

    ‘This is an absolutely superb, virtually picture-perfect performance… The Mariinsky Orchestra is so comfortable with this music that it never seems to be straining to produce exactly the right sound – instead, the players can focus wholly on exigencies of interpretative detail, those niceties of balance and attack that make all the difference between a well-executed reading and a brilliant one like this. The SACD sound helps a great deal, too, pinpointing every element of Shostakovich’s lucid orchestration’

    ‘Gergiev and the Mariinsky Orchestra bring a zest for life to Shostakovich’s Ninth Symphony… it is coupled with the compelling Violin Concerto No 1 performed by the exceptional Greek violinist Leonidas Kavakos… A gem of a recording with a world-class orchestra. This CD has understandably received excellent reviews all round and these are fully deserved.’

    ‘The Mariinsky Orchestra, under the baton of maestro Valery Gergiev, displays a wonderful uniformity of sound and phrasing. Their interpretation of this work [Symphony No 9] is both exciting and reassuring… The soloist, Leonidas Kavakos, while superb throughout, truly shines in [the Passacaglia]… The outstanding acoustic qualities of the Mariinsky Theatre makes this disc even more enjoyable.’
    The Whole Note

    ‘Superb new SACD… James Mallinson was the producer and he and his staff have produced a splendid sonic picture of a large orchestra – audio is sure to please audiophiles with its razor-sharp definition and wide dynamic range. And the performances are among the best.’
    Classical CD Review

    ‘Time and time again in this choice coupling of Shostakovich’s deceptively lightweight Symphony No 9 and the epic, brooding Violin Concerto No 1, we’re struck by the players’ personality, vivacity and pinprick precision. The dusky string tones during the symphony’s waltz, the rasping brass, the muted beauties surrounding Leonidas Kavakos’s violin: I could list many more.’

    ‘The recorded sound is fantastic and this allows everything else to flourish. The orchestra sound great throughout and they play Symphony No 9 as though to the manner born… The concerto is every bit as fine, but much more intense, helped by the presence of Leonidas Kavakos… A good performance of the symphony and an excellent performance of the concerto.’
    MusicWeb International

    ‘These are fine Shostakovich performances... the real attraction here is the pungency of the pairing of the symphony and the Violin Concerto No 1… The two works emerge here as pillars of the composer's postwar personality, with fine live DSD recording at the Mariinsky Theater. Recommended recordings of major Shostakovich works.’

    ‘They capture not only the joyful irreverence of the movement but the sense of danger lurking beneath the surface, the menace of those military fanfares and the tattoo of the snare drum. The solo wind playing is excellent throughout… brilliantly played and vividly recorded.’
    BBC Radio 3 CD Review

    ‘[Gergiev] gives everything, and the orchestra on stage and the audience in the hall were under great suspense… it is precisely this intensity that you can hear on this recording. It’s fascinating how Gergiev brings out the ambiguity of this score [Symphony No 9] with his orchestra.’

    ‘This recording, based on a live performance, is definitely one of intense commitment on the part of both soloist and conductor… there is much to look forward to as [Gergiev] continues with his efforts.’
    The Examiner

    ‘Shostakovich Violin Concerto No 1 by the best violinist in the world… The Ninth Symphony is excellent.’
    Le Devoir

    ‘[Symphony 9] is given a lively performance with an interpretation that will be familiar to most music lovers. Leonidas Kavakos delivers a compelling account of the solo line and in this he is well supported by Gergiev and his orchestra.’ MyClassicalNotes.com

    ‘Gergiev makes much of the Haydnesque deftness of the [Ninth Symphony’s] outer movements… Leonidas Kavakos plays it [Violin Concerto No 1] with controlled intensity, restrained and beautiful in the quietudes of the first movement… you cannot help but be drawn in by it.’

    ‘It’s quirky, apparently light-hearted and quick on its feet but with dark melancholy undercurrents which Gergiev didn’t really tap into for me in his previous Philips recordings. This is better – so is the playing and recording... A positive addition to [Gergiev’s] Shostakovich cycle on the Mariinsky Label, especially when it also delivers Kavakos’s fantastic superb account of the First Violin Concerto.’
    BBC Radio 3 CD Review

    ‘The musicians of the Mariinsky are at home in penetrating the mysteries of Moderato, proud and fantastic virtuosity of Presto, the august solemnity of Largo and the creaky irony of the last movement.’ Concerto.Net

    ‘Gergiev captures the sad, equivocal mood of that opening movement, and Kavakos… spins a light, singing line that can’t fail to impress… an exhilarating concerto.’
    MusicWeb International

    ‘Valery Gergiev and Leonidas Kavakos deliver ultra-luxurious interpretations of two contrasting Shostakovich pieces.’


Leonidas Kavakos
Valery Gergiev, Mariinsky Orchestra

The Mariinsky’s Shostakovich cycle has been an internationally acclaimed project, conducted by the foremost interpreter of our time.

Symphony No 9 is a deeply powerful composition in which Shostakovich delivered a work that was ‘Haydn-like in its proportions and Rossini-like in its wit.’ (Timothy Day). Through the symphony Shostakovich unmasked the truth behind the ideology and pomp of the officials. The people in power saw this symphony as a calculated provocation and made the composer’s life almost unbearable, and Shostakovich would not premiere another symphony until the death of his oppressor, Stalin, in 1953.

This symphony is coupled with the late, dark and introspective Violin Concerto No 1, performed here by Leonidas Kavakos, who was awarded Gramophone’s Artist of the Year 2014. Kavakos is recognised throughout the world as an artist of rare quality, known at the highest level for his virtuoso skills, superb musicianship and the integrity of his playing.

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