MRDe-music review: Shostakovich 5
The Toronto Symphony Orchestra
Stéphane Denève (guest conductor)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009 6:30pm
Roy Thomson Hall, Toronto

As I said to a friend of mine, there may be Shostakovich symphonies I find more entertaining, but from the point of view of concision and logic, his 5th is my favourite. Not only that, but the 3rd movement is one piece that always gets me ... I preceive a stark beauty in its lines that, while a characteristic of Shostakovich's, is probably most dramatically used in this movement.

That said, I must report that, sadly, I didn't get the charge I expected from finally hearing this work live. Often, the first time hearing a familiar work live as opposed to in a recording or via the score, is a revelation. Not at this performance ...

I'm sad to say a few moments sounded to be played a bit sloppily. That could be forgiven, to an extent at least, if the performance took fire. But it didn't. The brass section sounded great though.

I like the brass section. More than those violins ... showoffs, sitting at the front and all.

However, I think I know what happened. The concert started at 6:30. That's when musicians are just rehydrating after the previous night's debauch, and is not a good time for them to be playing.

So, the moral of this review is ... DON'T SCHEDULE EARLY CONCERTS.


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