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Cat. No. CHAN 6617 Price: £4.5 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 6617 - Shostakovich: Chamber Symphony · Symphony for Strings · From Jewish Folk Poetry
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Available From: 20 July 2000
Shostakovich composed the Eighth String Quartet which Rudolph Barshai later arranged as the Chamber Symphony, in 1960. The work is very much a musical autobiography, using his musical signature (DSCH) throughout. The work also makes wide use of quotations from other compositions which were dear to him throughout his life; a quote from the First Symphony, the Jewish theme from his Piano Trio, and a theme from the First Cello Concerto.

The ‘Symphony for Strings’, like the ‘Chamber Symphony’ began life as String Quartet No. 10, Op. 118 and, again, was arranged for strings by Barshai. The work is full of emotion – the opening Andante creates an atmosphere of passive anticipation of some horrible event yet to occur. Shostakovich continues this bleak portrayal of emotions throughout the work, ending with a final outburst of life after which all energy gradually disappears.

The Song-cycle ‘From Jewish Poetry’ was composed in 1948, at a time when a new wave of anti-Semitism, unprecedented in its brutality, overtook the Soviet Union. The cycle consists of eleven songs. The first eight are formally dedicated to the hard life of the Jews under the Czar – it was possible at the time to speak of the issue only with reference to history or by making use of allegory. The culmination of the cycle is the eighth song ‘Winter’. The frightening wailing of voices and wind instruments creates an image of a nation paralysed by fear. The last three songs are dedicated to the so-called ‘happy-life’ of the Jews under Stalin’s regime.

‘’From Jewish Folk Poetry’, for soprano, mezzo-soprano, tenor and orchestra, receives an absolutely spectacular performance from all forces here… with such ardour and consummate musicianship that one simply cannot imagine improvement.’

‘This is an altogether most rewarding disc’.

‘…you will certainly be glad to make the acquaintance of Yuli Turovsky’s dramatic account of the ‘Chamber Symphony’. His small group of expressive and accomplished players has the best of both world’s, the soloistic eloquence of a quartet and the massive impact of a string orchestra…’

‘…It’s hard to fault these oft praised interpretations, haunting and ardent in equal measure and executed with a unanimity that many string quartets would envy’.
International Record Review

‘The ‘Symphony for Strings’ is excellently done, with formidable attack and a wide spectrum of tonal colour, from a ghostly pallor at the outset of the finale via a rich graininess to an eloquently throaty, full-voiced cantibile.’

‘The two quartets would be enough to make this a must-buy, despite what would be barely 50 minutes of playing time. But Chandos makes the deal irresistible by including a superlative traversal of the song cycle From Jewish Folk Poetry’.
American Record Guide


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