This album of Shostakovich works is a rare treat on many levels. First, it's an entire CD of works showing a side of Shostakovich that may not immediately come to mind. There are few hints here of the stern, militaristic, bleak, and politically charged Shostakovich that may be more commonly associated with his name. On this recording, however, we get to hear the more playful and witty side of the venerable Russian composer. The other treat is, although it is a compilation of previously released recordings, it features magnificent offerings by an all-star list of orchestras. The headlining pieces for the album are of course the two piano concertos, the first written for himself and the second written for his son, Maxim. Heard here with pianist Dmitri Alexeev and the English Chamber Orchestra, the two concertos are performed with equal measures of crisp technique, subtle nuance, and exciting orchestral tuttis. The trumpet solos in the first concerto are first rate. Alexeev's playing throughout is quite thoughtful; his voicing is always crystal clear, rhythmically vital, and cleanly articulate, though for sheer power and bravura, his performance doesn't quite stack up to Bronfman and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Still, these two excellent performances together with the other playful and well-executed performances heard here definitely make this album worth checking out.
AllMusic Review by Mike D. Brownell
|Suite for Jazz Orchestra No. 1|
|Suite for Jazz Orchestra No. 2|
|The Gadfly, suite from the film score, Op. 97a (assembled by Atovmyan)|
|Piano Concerto No. 1, for piano, trumpet & strings, in C minor, Op. 35|
|Piano Concerto No. 2 in F major, Op. 102|
|The Unforgettable Year 1919, suite from the film score, Op. 89a (assembled by Atovmyan)|