Who owns Babi Yar? Not the Russians

Who owns Babi Yar? Not the Russians


norman lebrecht

January 11, 2020

From the lebrecht five-star Album of the Week:

Half a century ago, in January 1970, the young Riccardo Muti gave this symphony its western Europe premiere in Rome with the RAI orchestra and the wondeful bass Ruggiero Raimondi. The performance was semi-samizdat. A score had been smuggled out of Russia…

Read on here.

And here.


  • Gustavo says:


    I hope they also publish Prokofiev’s 3rd Symphony with CSO and Muti.

  • Greg Bottini says:

    Norman, with respect, I’m afraid that I will have to disagree with your statement that “The Chicago Symphony Orchestra plays more powerfully than any Russian orchestra, then or since”.
    If you are just referring to this symphony, Temirkanov and the St. Petersburg Phil is at least as equally “powerful” both in terms of interpretation and orchestral virtuosity, and Knondrashin’s Moscow Symphony premiere recording isn’t chopped liver, either.
    If you are speaking in general, then you simply must listen to more Mravinsky, Golovanov, Kondrashin, and Sanderling recordings with various Russian orchestras. Perhaps not always as polished as Chicago, but certainly as “powerful”.

    • Derek says:

      In general, there is something earthy, natural and moving about the brass in Russian orchestras that suits Russian music.

  • fflambeau says:

    “The Chicago Symphony Orchestra plays more powerfully than any Russian orchestra, then or since, and the men of the Chicago chorus with Alexei Tikhomorov as soloist do full justice to Yevtushenko’s sonorous lines. Solti, a late convert to Shostakovich, recorded this symphony in Chicago in 1995. Muti, I feel, has more to say. On record, only Mariss Jansons comes close.”

    The CSO and Muti are very, very good. Tikhomorov is impressive so this is a good pairing.

  • fflambeau says:

    The CSO and Muti are in Europe on tour now. Fascinating that they will spend 3 (three) nights of performances in Vienna, every other city gets just one night. I suspect that Muti wants to be in Vienna permanently and it could happen.

    • Steve Proser says:

      CBSO, Cleveland, Berlin PO, Concertgebouw all have multiple performances coming up at the Musikverein. Pittsburgh did also in the fall.

  • Edgar Self says:

    Masur’s recording is valuable for including Yevtushenko’s reading; otherwise, Kondrashin and Roszdestvensky.

    The last time Solti did it here with the CSO he started to give the downbeat, then unexpectedly turned and spoke: “Like many of you, I long thought Shostakovich was a Soviet stooge, but I found out I was wrong. And noww, as a Jew and as the last conductor of my generation, I feel I have a duty to conduct this music.”

  • V.Lind says:

    Give it a listen. NL is right: terrific rendition with a very Russian feeling.


    • Novagerio says:

      This is the Muti I find the most interesting; he has that great sense of smoothness, nobility and polish for sound, while also a great sense of narration and drama, having been a top operatic conductor for a lifetime.

  • Edgar Self says:

    Russian conductors of the mid and late XXth century knew what Shostakovich’s music was about. So did their orchestras. I can hear the difference.

  • Edward Smith says:

    Something not right here…

    The Western European premiere of Babi Yar was given in Liverpool by the RLPO and the enterprising Charles Groves in, I think, September 1972