Early releases on the Hallé Orchestra's own label have been of recent recordings made specially for this series. This one, however, pairs studio-made accounts from the mid-1990s, when the former music director Stanislaw Skrowaczewski returned to conduct symphonies by Shostakovich No 1, the composer's remarkably assured graduation piece, receives a forceful performance that is both honest in its musical directness and sympathetic to its changing moods. Many of the solos have real character, not least the bitter-sweet oboe melody at the start of the slow movement, and the brass ride the climaxes with assurance.
No 6, though, is less successful: while the first movement rises to the appropriate pitch of angst, the central scherzo lacks the last degree of terror at its climax, and there is a certain sense of desperation in some of the tongue-twisting woodwind solos here and in the hectic finale. Nevertheless, this a worthwhile release, even if it reminds us how far the Hallé has come under Mark Elder's baton in the meantime. As an alternative, Neeme Järvi (Chandos) offers superior orchestral playing in the same coupling.