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  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975)
Piano Concerto No. 1 (1933) [22.06]
Piano Concerto No. 2 (1957) [21.09]
Twenty-Four Preludes (1932-3) [33.37]
Oleg Marshev (piano)
Helsingborg SO/Hannu Lintu
rec 29 July - 2 Aug 2002, Konserhuset, Helsingborg, Sweden


Jesper Buhl has made Oleg Marshev his mission. There are already many Marshev volumes in the Danacord lists. Marshev is bright and eager and his piano is recorded with real 'oomph'. Here he is partnered by the Helsingborg orchestra who have superb woodwind and brass complements. If their violins sound thin-toned this matches Shostakovich's stripped down approach. In the First Concerto there are the marks of Prokofiev's Classical, of Mozart and of neo-classicism. Jan Karlsson, the orchestra's first trumpet does not disappoint and is easily equal to Vacchiano in the Previn version (Sony). The Mickey Mouse power and silent film gymnastics of the last three minutes only serve to underline the gawping and possibly malevolent smile of this music.

The Second Concerto is up against Dmitriev (CFP), Bernstein (superb but now sounding rather raw) and Ortiz. Marshev's piano is sound-located forward. The engineering luminously captures the dynamic gradations of Marshev’s playing. For those who do not know, the Second Concerto is a more lyrically appealing work than the First. It is populist par excellence. Only once in the First does the composer feint towards popular taste and then in a Khachaturian-like gesture in the Moderato. At the end of the first movement, at 7.18, Shostakovich produces a syncopated hammering that reminds me of a similar moment in Walton's Sinfonia Concertante from twenty years previously. The following andante is played for total enchantment - a combination of the Moonlight, The Emperor (middle movement) and Rachmaninov 2 - dewdrop romance distilled. While Marshev does not offer the febrile energy we find in the Bernstein version he is not short on impact and verve and turns in a wonderfully well recorded and performed account.

The Preludes are short and lovingly rounded and spun. They traverse quite a landscape: Debussy, Prokofiev's sarcasm, troika-like jollity, tonally challenged forays (tr 14), Bachian two-steps, Medtnerian serenades, undertakers' soliloquies (tr 21), Mozartian games, sinister little polkas. MusicWeb’s own Paul Serotsky contributes the liner notes and suggests that these works might almost be part of the crib-sheet of a silent cinema pianist.

Rob Barnett

see also review by Paul Serotsky

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