Shostakovich: Suite for Variety Orchestra; Concerto for Piano, Trumpet & Strings; The Golden Age

Romain Leleu, Antonii Baryshevskyi; Brandenburgisches Staatsorchester Frankfurt/Howard Griffiths (Klanglogo)

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Shostakovich Suite for Variety Orchestra (Jazz Suite No. 2); Concerto for Piano, Trumpet & Strings; The Golden Age
Romain Leleu (trumpet), Antonii Baryshevskyi (piano); Brandenburgisches Staatsorchester Frankfurt/Howard Griffiths
Klanglogo KL1526 64:05 mins

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The Concerto for Piano, Trumpet and Strings – widely known as Piano Concerto No. 1– and the suite from The Golden Age date from Shostakovich’s uppity earlier years, before the menace of Stalin scared him into sobriety. The Suite for Variety Orchestra – a later compilation to replace the lost Jazz Suite No. 2 – sounds as if drawn from similar bits and bobs of earlier film and theatre music. But it mostly lacks the mordant memorability of the Jazz Suite No. 1. And, as belted out in the over-resonant concert hall ambience which is the main drawback of this release, it sounds rather inflated.

With hindsight, it is easier to hear, in such scores as the Piano Concerto No. 1, how the satirical fireworks were always shadowed by a mournful remoteness. And these opposites are nicely balanced here under Antonii Baryshevskyi’s volatile fingers and Howard Griffiths’s crisp direction. But they face stiff competition from a catalogue full of fine accounts – not least, film footage and audio recordings of Shostakovich playing the work himself. The suite from The Golden Age is drawn from a ballet about the adventures of a Soviet football team, and is also effectively realised, especially the unexpectedly dark and expansive Adagio. But, again, there are many alternative choices including several of the complete ballet.

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Bayan Northcott