Shostakovich and Comrades

Murray McLachlan

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Shostakovich and Comrades Review

by James Leonard

The plan, program, conception, and execution of this album, Shostakovich and His Comrades, played with extravagant magnificence by pianist Murray McLachlan, are brilliant. Only listeners who are turned off to hardcore Socialist Realism expressed through super-virtuoso, ultra-violent piano music are likely to dislike it. When Shostakovich premiered his First Sonata for his friends, he left blood all over the keyboard, and some of this music is so sharp-edged, with such extraordinary technical challenges, that it's easy to see how that could have happened. The works McLachlan has chosen are superb examples of Soviet Modernist piano music. They include both of Shostakovich's sonatas, the bone-crushing First, and the take-no-prisoners Second, plus Kabalevsky's monomaniacal Third Sonata, Myaskovsky's obsessive Song and Rhapsody, Shchedrin's incendiary Tschastuschki, and Stevenson's massive Recitative and Air (DSCH). McLachlan never lets up and never lets go until the works are thoroughly drained. The sound here is a bit dry and a tad recessed, but fans of this repertoire will likely love this disc.

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