This release by the Russian-Israeli pianist Boris Giltburg stands out from the host of other recordings of Shostakovich's piano concertos by virtue of the two additional works on the album: arrangements of string quartet music by Shostakovich for piano, with the arrangements by Giltburg himself. First the good news: the concerto performances here are very strong. Especially attractive is the Piano Concerto No. 2 in F major, Op. 102, where Giltburg slows down enough to let the music breathe and seems cognizant of the concerto's origins as a gift for the composer's son, Maxim. Giltburg is ideally backed by transparent textures from the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic under Vasily Petrenko. Sample the irrepressible finale; it rivals the popular recording of this concerto by Leonard Bernstein in the 1960s and is perhaps even lighter in spirit. The piano transcriptions do not work as well. The little third-movement waltz from the String Quartet No. 2 in A major, Op. 68, transfers effectively with its motor rhythms, but Giltburg seems to be building toward the full arrangement of the String Quartet No. 8 in C minor, Op. 110, at the end. The idea makes sense in view of the motivic connections between the quartet and the Piano Concerto No. 2, and in view of the fact that the quartet is probably already better known in a string orchestra arrangement than in its original form. But the agonized dissonant chords that define the whole quartet just don't have their proper impact here. Nevertheless, this release, with intelligent notes by Giltburg, deserves a place in Shostakovich collections.
AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Piano Concerto No. 1 in C minor, Op. 35|
|String Quartet No. 2 in A major, Op. 68|
|Piano Concerto No. 2 in F major, Op. 102|
|String Quartet No. 8 in C minor, Op. 110|