Shostakovich Chamber Symphonies Vol. 2

Review by: David Hurwitz


Artistic Quality: 9

Sound Quality: 9

This second and final installment in Dmitry Yablonsky’s survey of “the Barshai cycle” of chamber symphonies arranged from Shostakovich’s string quartets is, on the whole, even more impressive than the first. The Chamber Symphony Op. 73a, scored for strings, woodwinds, and harp, is an arrangement of the Third Quartet, a heavily “symphonic” work in five movements. Yablonsky’s performance has a raw energy that many will recognize as distinctly “Russian.” The opening Allegretto, in particularly, is notably slower than in most quartet performances, but heavily accented and bitingly satirical as played here. It’s a fine performance overall that really does reimagine the work as scored for larger forces.

The Symphony for Strings Op. 118a takes the Tenth Quartet as its basis. A very powerful piece, perhaps the greatest of the composer’s late quartets, the second movement Allegretto furioso recalls the second movement of the Tenth Symphony, the Toccata of the Eighth, and the wild second movement of the Eighth Quartet. It other words, it’s super intense, and so is this performance. The occasional raw edge only serves to highlight the immediacy of expression. Yablonsky knows his Shostakovich and, a cellist himself, he also knows how to get his players to perform with a gutsiness and energy that  never turns crude. Fine, up front sonics too.

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Recording Details:

Reference Recording: Barshai (DG)

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