Unwrapping an enigma: Gergiev’s electrifying Shostakovich 15

Balakirev, Tchaikovsky, Shostakovich: LSO/Gergiev *****

Barbican Hall, 12th May 2015

“A riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.” That description could apply to Shostakovich’s Fifteenth Symphony, with its impish musical quotations punctuating its dark brooding character. It would also describe Valery Gergiev’s conducting. The Mariinsky maestro relinquishes the LSO hot seat at the end of 2015. I’ve watched Gergiev more than any other conductor over the past two decades and even now I’m at a loss to explain his technique. The scowl, the hummingbird fingers, the toothpick baton… it shouldn’t work. Yet, in the right repertoire – invariably Russian – the results can be sensational.

Valery Gergiev © Alberto Venzago

Valery Gergiev
© Alberto Venzago

Read the full review on Bachtrack.

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