Shostakovich/Haydn

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Shostakovich/Haydn
LABELS: DG
WORKS: Concerto for Piano, Trumpet and Strings,Op. 35; Piano Concerto in D, Hob XVIII:11
PERFORMER: Martha Argerich (piano)Guy Touvron (trumpet)Württemberg CO, Heilbronn/Jörg Faerber
CATALOGUE NO: 439 864-2 DDD
Not a universally popular work, Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No. 1 – the Concerto for Piano, Trumpet and Strings – poses problems for some listeners, owing to its hybrid character. In this early work (which Shostakovich wrote for himself to perform) the composer explores and experiments with many different styles, and within its four movements there is a wealth of musical reference, from a Jewish street song to Haydn and Beethoven – even self-quotation.

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The performers on this recording must surely rank among the work’s strongest advocates. Martha Argerich’s consummate artistry allows her to shape and colour every phrase, dismissing doubts more convincingly than either of the two recordings I have heard with the composer himself as soloist. Guy Touvron executes his first-movement arpeggios and brilliant fanfares in the finale with precision, while the expressive muted solo in the slow movement, though fiendishly low in the trumpet’s range, is suitably lyrical.

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Perhaps a surprising coupling, Haydn’s Piano Concerto in D provides no less of an opportunity to savour Argerich’s musicianship. She delivers an account to convince all but the most hardened purists of the validity of modern-instrument performance. The playing of the Württemberg Chamber Orchestra of Heilbronn under Jörg Faerber is sympathetic, with lively phrasing and crisp articulation in the fast movements. Deborah Calland