The latest instalment of Mariss Jansons' Shostakovich cycle, this is an impressive achievement, though it won't be to all tastes. The symphony, first performed in 1962, is one of the composer's most hard-hitting works - at once a demand that we learn from the past and a bleak reminder that Khrushchev's "thaw" had failed to eradicate fully the excesses of the Stalinist era. In place of the brutal directness favoured by some interpreters, Jansons shades the work towards world-weary elegy, making the focal point the final movement, which depicts cosmonauts encircling the earth.
Sergei Alexashkin is the infinitely subtle soloist. The choral singing is superb and the playing phenomenal, though you sometimes miss the bass-heavy sound of an authentic Russian choir, and some might prefer a more abrasive orchestral sound to the smoothness of the Bavarian Radio Symphony.