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17.12.06

Shostakovich in 2006, Part 1

Available at Amazon:
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Shostakovich, Violin and Cello Sonatas, Romance and Nocturne for Cello and Orchestra (from The Gadfly), D. Yablonsky, M. Fedotov, E. Saranceva, G. Petrova, Russian Philharmonic (released on October 31, 2006)
There must be someone out there who has not yet acquired some new discs this year to fill out the Shostakovich corner of his library. The Russian composer celebrated a centenary in 2006, and musicians everywhere have been giving concerts and releasing recordings of his music. These recordings offer some interesting vantage points on Dmitri Dmitrievich and could be nice acquisitions for the end of the Shostakovich year.

First, from Naxos an ensemble recording of works for cello and violin. The Cello Sonata, op. 40, dates from 1934, when the composer was in his late 20s, and he shows his roots quite clearly. One could almost mistake the first movement's opening section for Fauré, and the second movement for moody Schubert. He hews fairly closely to the traditional forms of the classical sonata. The performance is good, in spite of some strained passages from cellist Dmitry Yablonsky, especially in high parts with multiple stops. The tender slow movement is endlessly seductive. The Violin Sonata, op. 134, dates from 1968, and it is as barren, sparse, and enigmatic as the earlier work is lyrical. The performance, with violinist Maxim Fedotov and pianist Galina Petrova, often leans toward the pitiless and mechanical, which captures the bitterness of the score. True, neither of these sonatas really needs a new recording, but the performances have a convincing Russian character. Yablonsky's transcriptions of a romance and nocturne from Shostakovich's nifty score for The Gadfly, a pathetic propaganda film, are bon-bons guaranteed to rot your teeth, and they fill out this cross-sectional look at the composer's multi-faceted work.

Naxos 8.557722

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