A nice idea to sandwich
a world premiere recording of Ilya Dimov's
arrangement of the Concertino in between
Shostakovich's two piano concertos.
No.1 is the most famous, with its second
soloist being the obbligato trumpet.
Uhlig is a neat player - great cleanliness
of finger articulation - yet there is
a gritty quality missing here. The trumpeter,
Peter Leiner, is marvellously confident,
but the two miss the high-jinks of this
score and the joie-de-vivre.. There
is a fair amount of fantasy to the Lento,
admittedly, and moments of real tenderness
from the orchestra. As for the finale,
it is a near-miss. There is fun here,
but Uhlig can be on the tame side -
the interjection chord at 3'26, for
example, loses its 'joke' and therefore
its point - the recording is slightly
swimmy, which makes the denser-scored
passages rather congested. A recent
performance here in London by Simon
Trpceski was far closer to the score's
The Concertino is an
arrangement for piano and chamber orchestra
of the Concertino for Two Pianos, a
work composed in the wake of the Tenth
Symphony. 'Dark' as a description hardly
covers the opening – ‘bleak’ is closer.
Uhlig conveys the introspection well,
even the more rhythmic passages taking
on the character of a macabre dance.,
while Dimov's orchestration is convincing.
The Second Concerto
begins with the woodwind providing pure
delight. Uhlig's simple octave melody
proves he has yet to master the Art
of the Simple. This movement is a masterpiece
of the composer manipulating seemingly
plain material - is that really 'What
shall we do with the drunken sailor?'
goes the debate - to make an edifice
that is pure Shostakovich. There is
much energy to this performance; more
in the first movement than in the whole
of Uhlig's First Concerto, in fact.
An interior slow movement of much concentration
- the orchestra's beginning – the first
1 ½ minutes, is exemplary - leads to
a playful finale, the 7/8 rhythms of
which are dispatched with much relish.
The booklet includes
an interesting interview with conductor
and soloists. Playing time is low (a
smidgen over fifty minutes), but the
inclusion of the Concertino arrangement
makes this worth a listen.