Magazine article Gramophone

Shostakovich: Chamber Symphonies (Arr Barshai)-Op 49a

Magazine article Gramophone

Shostakovich: Chamber Symphonies (Arr Barshai)-Op 49a

Article excerpt


Chamber Symphonies (arr Barshai)--Op 49 (a); Op 110a; Op 118 (a)

The Dmitri Ensemble / Graham Ross

Harmonia Mundi [F] HMU90 7634 (65' * DDD)

Rudolf Barshai began transcribing Shostakovich's string quartets when the composer was still alive, eventually fleshing out as many as five such works for larger forces. Shostakovich made approving noises about the now familiar Chamber Symphony Op 110a (based on the Eighth String Quartet) and all of them have been recorded previously. I'm not sure why Marina Frolova-Walker's booklet-note finds the sequence 'undeservedly obscure'. Least ubiquitous is Eine kleine Symphonie, Op 49a, the First String Quartet as recast in 1995. Barshai set down the lot in Milan late in life but his earlier, incomplete series with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe has greater finesse (DG, 12/05). Should you be seeking a single-CD selection offering comparably committed playing in higher-fi, the present disc certainly looks like a contender.

The Dmitri Ensemble has its own calling card in the Chamber Symphony Op 110a. Its opening Largo is effectively bleached out, not overly slow, its scherzo suitably brutal. There is perhaps a degree of English reserve in the third movement's sinister waltz. …

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