SHOSTAKOVICH: Overture Op. 23,
TISCHENKO: Cello Concerto (orch. Shostakovich),
SCHUMANN: Cello Concerto (orch Shostakovich),
SHOSTAKOVICH: Two Preludes (orch. Alfred Schnittke).
Russian State Symphony Orchestra
Chandos CHAN9792 60m
This disc is billed as 'The Unknown Shostakovich' and I was certainly unaware
of his splendid orchestration of Boris Tischenko's mournfully bleak Cello
Concerto - a true masterpiece, in my opinion. The master's orchestration
brings this scandalously underrated work to the modern public by facilitating
some of its fuzzier passages and bringing greater clarity and warmth to the
sparse orchestral motifs. Alexander Ivashkin's playing is second-to-none
in this extremely complex work that reminds one of Schnittke. The whole
performance is deeply passionate and committed.
With the Schumann concerto, we have a more modernistic view, indeed the
orchestration applied by Shostakovich can make the work seem strikingly modern.
The cellist's notes tell us that this orchestration was worked upon in 1963
and is thus contemporaneous with the second Concerto. There is no doubt that
the darker elements of that work crept into this profoundly modern orchestration.
The reading is spellbinding with Polyansky providing a superb accompaniment
and Ivashkin playing the notes as if his very life depended upon it.
The disc is framed by two short works, a rather 'Chereveniki' style Overture
to Dressel's 'Der arme Columbus' and two woefully bleak Preludes for strings,
orchestrated by that other visionary, Alfred Schnittke. I cannot recall a
disc that left me with such despair. At the same time the combination of
all these great Russian artists is richly rewarding in a unique sense of