Various Artists

An Introduction to Dmitri Shostakovich

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If you had to pick a collection of pieces with which to introduce the works of Soviet composer Dmitry Shostakovich to an otherwise unfamiliar listener, what would you pick? A symphony, for sure: Shostakovich was one of the great symphonists of the twentieth century, so a symphony would be mandatory. And of his 15 works in the form, you'd probably pick the Fifth: it's not only far and away the most popular; with its big tunes, tragic tone, and powerful developments, it's also manifestly the most representative. But what else would you pick? Would you, like the producers of this disc, pick the Festive Overture, a pot-boiler that could be said to represent the composer in an optimistic mood? Would you also pick the Tahiti Trot, aka "Tea for Two," a jeux de esprit that could be said to represent the composer in an ironic mood? Would you even pick the Second Piano Concerto, a gift from the composer to his piano playing son that could be said to represent the composer in an affectionate mood? If the answer to these questions is yes, then this disc, An Introduction to Dmitri Shostakovich, is for you. With the skillful performances of Neeme Järvi leading the Scottish National Orchestra in the symphony, the overture and the Tahiti Trot plus the deeply dedicated performance of the concerto by Maxim Shostakovich, the composer's son, and Dmitry Shostakovich, the composer's grandson, this disc presents strong cases for each work in clear if perhaps too clean early digital sound.

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