Shostakovich, Schnittke, JS Bach

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COMPOSERS: ShostakovichSchnittkeJS Bach
LABELS: Quartz
ALBUM TITLE: ShostakovichSchnittkeJS Bach
WORKS: JS Bach: Concerto No. 1 in D minor, BWV 1052; Schnittke: Concerto for Piano and Strings; Shostakovich: Piano Concerto No. 1
PERFORMER: Ksenia Bashmet (piano); Moscow Soloists/Yuri Bashmet
CATALOGUE NO: QTZ 2060

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These are fine performances, but there are even better versions elsewhere, so much will depend upon whether you particularly desire this stimulating coupling of three highly contrasted works. Bach and Shostakovich are at least akin in the sheer virtuosity of their rhythmic writing in fast movements, where Ksenia Bashmet is excellent in her clean, dry, precise articulation of rhythmic groupings and accent. She is warmly eloquent, too, in Bach’s slow movement, and appropriately colder and more crystalline in Shostakovich’s. (Vladislav Lavrik deserves mention for his characterful trumpet-playing.) In the Schnittke, Bashmet deftly and effectively characterises the myriad different playing styles, powerfully supported by her father’s firm direction of the Moscow Soloists. Excellent though her Shostakovich is, I would still choose either the recent stunning account by Martha Argerich on EMI, with Serge Nakariakov on trumpet, or the outstanding version of Leif Ove Andsnes with Håkan Hardenberger (also on EMI). The latter team brings stylishness and debonair elegance to the Concerto, though Argerich outdoes them in sheer manic energy. In the Schnittke, Vladimir Krainev with the Moscow Virtuosi under Vladimir Spivakov gives a darker, more convincingly haunted interpretation on BMG, and there is a twisted grandeur to Igor Khudolei’s Chandos version. As for the Bach, if we confine ourselves only to performances with piano, I would still prefer the peerless Murray Perahia’s with the Academy of St Martin’s in the Fields. But this is a notable debut disc from a very talented player. Calum MacDonald