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Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975)
Concerto for Piano, Trumpet and Strings in C minor, Op. 35a (1933) [23'05].
Concertino for Two Pianos in A minor, Op. 94 (1953, arr. piano/chamber orchestra Ilya Dimov) [9'48].
Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No. 2 in F, Op. 102 (1957) [18'36].
Florian Uhlig (piano);
aPeter Leiner (trumpet)
SWR Radio Symphony Orchestra Kaiserlautern/Jirí Stárek.
rec. SWR Studio Kaiserlautern, 2002-2004. DDD
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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 truth (review).

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 ˝ 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.

Colin Clarke



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