Rustem Hayroudinoff / Colin Stone

Shostakovich: Symphony No. 4 (Arranged for Two Pianos)

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If by modernist you mean harsh, aggressive, ironic, and random, Shostakovich's two-piano version of his Fourth Symphony is a more modernist work than the orchestral version. As performed with complete dedication and absolute virtuosity by the two-piano duo of Rustem Hayroudinoff and Colin Stone, Shostakovich's Fourth (the piano transcription) is a black and white monster movie of a symphony with the reels mixed up. Why does the opening Allegretto poco moderato careen from crash to explosion? Why does the central Moderato con moto slink from a stealthy ländler to a clattering skeleton dance? Why does the closing Largo start with a mock funeral march and end with a wheezing and rattling machine running down into aural eternity? In the two-piano transcription of the symphony, the answers are unknowable. Although Hayroudinoff and Stone are superlative, the gnarly and enigmatic Fourth remains aloof, cruel, and ultimately inscrutable. Chandos' sound is loud to the point of being deafening and close to the point of being claustrophobic. It suits the music even if it scares the listener.

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