Can Italian musicians play the music of Shostakovich? What a silly question! While it's true that some composer's music sounds better if played by performers who share the composer's nationality, Shostakovich's music, like the music of Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, and many other A-list composers, sounds just fine played by performers of other nationalities. Part of it has to do with the universality of the music and part of it has to do with the universality of the musicians. In this 2008 recording of Shostakovich's two piano trios plus his Seven Romances on Poems of Alexander Blok for soprano and piano trio, the Italian Trio di Parma shows it has what it takes to deliver convincing performances of the Soviet modernist's music. What it takes is more than three talented players who form a strong but supple ensemble, though the three Italians certainly posses those qualities. What it takes is an understanding of the idiom and the milieu of the music, that is, of the music's expressive use of tonality and of the composer's ironic attitude toward mortality. Though the tone is at times thin, the Trio di Parma has a sharp attack, a brawny feeling for rhythm, and a firm grasp of pacing and structure that holds together both the laconic single-movement Trio No. 1 and the dramatic four-movement Trio No. 2. For the Seven Blok Romances, the Italian instrumentalists are joined by Russian soprano Julia Korpacheva in performances of fearful intensity. Anyone who enjoys Shostakovich's chamber music is likely to enjoy this disc. Stradivarius' digital sound is a bit gray and a tad distant, but still very clear.
AllMusic Review by James Leonard
|Suite of Romances (7) for soprano & piano trio, Op. 127|
|Piano Trio No. 2 in E minor, Op. 67|