Correct Shostakovich Cello Concertos, But That’s It

Review by: David Hurwitz

Artistic Quality: 7

Sound Quality: 8

These performances are what my French colleague Christophe Huss would call “correct”. Nothing goes wrong, all the notes are in place, and the performances are well paced and thoroughly musical. They also aren’t terribly interesting. Enrico Dindo plays accurately and has an attractive tone. In his upper register, however, he doesn’t quite ride the orchestra with the necessary nervous hysteria in, for example, the second subject of the First concerto’s opening movement, or the climax of the Second concerto’s scherzo. This also prevents the grotesque finale of the former work from providing the sense of climax the work demands, despite some beautiful playing in the cadenza.

As for the accompaniments, I never thought I’d say that the contrabassoon is too prominent, but there it is, belching away flatulently to the point where it becomes a real distraction. This is less of a problem in the Second concerto than in the First, but in the later work Gianandrea Noseda and Dindo don’t hold the finale together as well as the best of the competition, especially when the music relaxes into reminiscences of the first movement. That virtuoso contrabassoon aside, the orchestra’s horn soloists also sound merely average, and we all know how important their parts are. The big fanfare that introduces the Second concerto’s finale, for instance, has strikingly little bite.

If the above sounds nit-picky, it’s only because competition in these works is so strong. In a less crowded field this disc could have been a contender for its very real positive qualities. All of the above quibbles don’t add up to very much in the long run, but the fact is that the best of the competition offers you all of the pluses with none of the minuses, so why should you bother? Answer: you shouldn’t.



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Recording Details:

Reference Recording: Schiff/Shostakovich (Philips)


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