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Shostakovich: Concerto No. 1 for Piano, Trumpet and Orchestra; Concerto No. 2 for Piano and Orchestra; Quintet for Piano and Strings. Yefim Bronfman, piano; Thomas Stevens, trumpet; Esa-Pekka Salonen, Los Angeles Philharmonic; Juilliard String Quartet. Sony SK 60677.

Shostakovich: Concerto No. 1 for Piano, Trumpet and Orchestra; Concerto No. 2 for Piano and Orchestra; Quintet for Piano and Strings. Yefim Bronfman, piano; Thomas Stevens, trumpet; Esa-Pekka Salonen, Los Angeles Philharmonic; Juilliard String Quartet. Sony SK 60677.

The three pieces on the disc represent Dmitri Shostakovich from his most playful to his most sublime. The opening work for piano, trumpet and orchestra, 1933, is almost entirely lighthearted, with extremes in tempo, rhythms, dynamics, the works, used to establish a kind of mirthful abandon. The Second Piano Concerto, written in 1957, is likewise in a playful vein but this time overlaid with a more serious tone. It, too, depends upon contrast and surprise for its effects. But it is the concluding piece in the program that is the towering achievement, the Quintet for Piano and Strings. It is a profoundly touching five-movement composition, the two opening movements among the most deeply felt, melancholy, yet stirring moments one is likely to experience in music. There is a central Scherzo that brightens the landscape, then a hymn-like Intermezzo, and a conclusion that brings everything to a positive, mildly exultant end. Next to his symphonies, it probably the best thing Shostakovich ever wrote.

Sony's sound varies, as the three works were recorded in different venues. The two concertos were done in Los Angeles, and they have an odd, closed-in feeling about them. The miking is relatively close-up, yet there is no compensatory reward in definition or detail. The sound is rather warm and one-dimensional. The Quintet, however, recorded in Tanglewood, MA, is better balanced and more transparent, not only because it involves a smaller group but because the distancing is more advantageous. It is still perhaps a shade too close, but the result is far from unpleasant. It's good to hear this composer in his many moods and performed so affectionately.
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Author:Puccio, John
Publication:Sensible Sound
Date:Apr 1, 2000
Words:308
Previous Article:Satie: Orchestral Works. Jerome Kaltenbach, Orchestre Symphonique et Lyrique de Nancy. Naxos 8.554279.
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