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Cat. No. CHAN 10358 Price: £7 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 10358 - Shostakovich: Suite on Words of Michelangelo/ Six Romances/October
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Available From: 01 February 2006
Shostakovich’s understandable reputation as one of the twentieth century’s greatest symphonists has tended to eclipse his achievements in other musical forms. Since his death in 1975 Shostakovich’s chamber music, instrumental works, operas and ballets have grown steadily in popularity, but his song cycles have not always attracted the same consistent level of interest, which is simply not justified. Chandos therefore turns its attention to some of these works, and is delighted to enlist the winning combination of the BBC Philharmonic and Gianandrea Noseda as well as the new young Russian talent, Ildar Abdrazakov who debuts on Chandos. Noseda and the BBC Philharmonic have recorded a varied repertoire to great success, and his releases for Chandos, from Prokofiev to Dallapiccola, have routinely picked up accolades from the critics.

The song cycles have an introspective nature, which may be explained by the fact that they were composed towards the end of his life. The first emerged as the revision of an earlier work – Six Romances on Verses by Raleigh, Burns and Shakespeare, originally composed for voice with piano accompaniment but revised in 1971. This work was very personal to Shostakovich, each of the six songs is dedicated to an important person in his life and the music visits themes close to the composer and though retaining an inner reticence it is laconic and expressive. Coupled with this work are October - a vibrant and colourful piece with a satisfying structure in which the climaxes are carefully placed to achieve the maximum dramatic effect - and the cycle Suite on Words of Michelangelo, composed in the year of Shostakovich’s death and intended as a tribute to the great Florentine sculptor, artist and poet.

The Michelangelo cycle is perhaps Shostakovich’s most unfairly neglected masterpiece, embodying everything that is hest about late Shostakovich in its concentration and power… on balance the new recording is now a clear first choice…
International Record Review

Abdrazakov’s restraint brings its own rewards, allowing the songs to speak for with stoical wisdom, the more so thanks to his fabulously steady tone, which remains rich and euphonious across the entire register and dynamic range. The BBC Philharmonic and their principal conductor accompany with refinement and well aimed attack.

Austere, uncompromising stuff, it’s ideally suited to Gianandrea Noseda’s severe way with Shostakovich and he and the BBC Philharmonic illuminate its bleakly beautiful orchestral palette with great subtlety
The Guardian

The Suite on Words of Michelangelo (1974) is one of Shostakovich’s most moving late works, its spare orchestration perfectly adjusted to the mood of the texts. Preoccupation with death also haunts the Six Romances, setting of English poets composed in 1942 but not orchestrated with 1971 and characteristic of his bitter humour. Both cycles are superbly sung by the Russian-born bass Ildar Abdrazakov.
Sunday Telegraph

The performances are very strong. Abdrazakov has a superb voice that he uses effectively to convey the great range of emotions in this music. Let us hope we hear lots more from him. The orchestral playing is clean and passionate, with strong and perceptive direction by Noseda, and the recorded sound is excellent. Texts are supplied in four languages along with informative notes. What a welcome recording this is!
American Record Guide


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