"No Competition Too Stiff:"

In the years from 1992 until 1998, Rudolf Barschai recorded all 15 symphonies of Dmitri Shostakovich with the West German Radio Symphony Orchestra. These fantastic recordings have only now become available to the public on the Brilliant/Joan label. Ingo Harden wrote the following review under the headline "No Competition Too Stiff" in the magazine Fono Forum (12/02):

"One is also tempted to compare the latest CD packet from Brilliant Classics with the new almost given away airline tickets - like a "super-quickie." But this comparison isn't quite accurate. While the promotional offers reveal themselves to be of only limited value, the new Dutch label delivers all round first-class quality: a complete recording of the 15 symphonies of Dmitri Shostakovich, which can stand any competition. And this at half the Naxos price. (...) I don't know any recent recording of these works that reproduces the tone and artistic ethic of the time of their composition so well. In these CD premieres one can hear something of Mravinsky's harsh seriousness, of his iron grandeur and linearity in which 'obligatory' orchestral routine and sensitively romantic complaisance did not have the slightest chance. (...) It is thanks to the orchestra and the recording technique that these stylistically central, in a certain sense authentic Shostakovich interpretations of the meanwhile 78-year-old Barschai, who witnessed the times, were realised without clattering hardness and coarse roughness, despite all his strict grandeur and decisiveness."