I will admit to owning way too much Shostakovich. Not only do I have the complete symphony sets by Kondrashin and Bernstein, all 15 symphonies have a CD by various conductors in my collection. Lately the rage has been to release bargain sets of older recordings, like the Toscanini or Rubinstein sets, or complete symphony sets at bargain download prices. Of course, buyer beware on some of the ‘Best 99 Tracks’ collections for a buck out there, but sometimes there are some really great bargains out there. The Brilliant Records release of Shostakovich’s 15 Symphonies by Rudolf Barshai and the WDR Sinfonieorchester is one such case. The CDs are a reasonable price, but the whole set for $9 in MP3 format is an offer too good to pass up.
Barshai had a connection with Shostakovich, so he is not some fly-by-nighter here [he premiered Symphony 14 if I remember correctly]. This set of performances may not be quite up to the most exciting releases of individual symphonies, but as a whole this is definitely a great set to have. The sound quality is fine and the playing is great. The interpretations are good, no fancy conducting here, but and enjoyable way to get a set of Shosh.