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Shostakovich: Piano Concertos / Paul Gulda, Vladimir Fedoseyev

Shostakovich / Moscow Radio Sym Orch / Gulda
Release Date: 03/13/2012 
Label:  Gramola   Catalog #: 98928   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Dmitri Shostakovich
Performer:  Vladimir GoncharovPaul Gulda
Conductor:  Vladimir Fedoseyev
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Moscow Radio Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 41 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

SHOSTAKOVICH Piano Concertos: No. 1; No. 2 Paul Gulda (pn); Vladimir Fedoseyev, cond; Moscow R Tchaikovsky SO GRAMOLA 98928 (41:21)

I have, as a rule, always been fonder of early than late Shostakovich. Although I do appreciate a few of his later works, such as the Fifth, Seventh, and 10th symphonies, the First Violin Concerto, and the music for The Golden Age, I am not a fan of musical breast-beating, sobbing, gnashing of teeth, etc., in music any more Read more than I am fond of it in literature. We all suffer for one reason or another and, to be honest, were I in Shostakovich’s position I would simply have written the music I wanted to write, absent of petulant emotions, and simply left it to a younger relative to reveal once the Soviet nightmare was over.

Which brings us to an appraisal of these piano concertos and their performances. Like the First Symphony, the First Piano Concerto finds a young modern composer having great fun, in a sense thumbing his nose at the Soviet system but doing so in a way that is overflowing with humor and youthful energy. Paul Gulda, son of the legendary Friedrich, is having fun with the music as well, his light, bright touch and sparkling technique bringing out the quality of the piano writing here, which is almost a champagne froth atop the imaginative and energetic orchestral score.

And, luckily, the composer’s Second Concerto is one of his few thoroughly cheerful scores of his later period, written for his son, Maxim, and premiered by Shostakovich fils and père in 1957. To say that it was an instant hit would be an understatement; this was undoubtedly Shostakovich’s most popular composition of his later years. The way Gulda tears into the first movement almost takes one’s breath away, so exuberant is his mood and so completely effortless is his technique. The second movement is, perhaps, one of the composer’s most beautiful and affecting musical statements, having a touch of melancholy but lacking pathos or bathos. Indeed, after the initial orchestral statement, the music opens up in mood as the piano enters, somehow bringing a touch of sunshine to the proceedings, and this sunshine again breaks out into unrestrained gaiety in the final movement. Possibly because Vladimir Fedoseyev, too, is Russian, his conducting is with the pianist every step of the way, almost bursting at the seams with high spirits and a full enjoyment of the music’s feeling of celebration.

Despite competing versions by Mikhail Rudy and Mariss Jansons (EMI 09428), Marc-André Hamelin and Andrew Litton on Hyperion 30023, or, if you feel like investing in a truly remarkable set, Shostakovich and Cluytens on EMI 17575, a 22-CD set culled from the label’s old Composers in Person series of the 1990s, I would have to place these readings at or near the very top of the list. Unlike Hamelin, who generally gives you the impression that he’s dazzling you with his technique, Gulda is dazzling you with the music—the technique, great though it is, is secondary.

FANFARE: Lynn René Bayley
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Works on This Recording

Concerto for Piano no 1 in C minor, Op. 35 by Dmitri Shostakovich
Performer:  Vladimir Goncharov (Trumpet), Paul Gulda (Piano)
Conductor:  Vladimir Fedoseyev
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Moscow Radio Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1933; USSR 
Date of Recording: 01/1992/11/1993 
Venue:  Concert Hall of the Slovak Philharmonic, 
Length: 22 Minutes 33 Secs. 
Concerto for Piano no 2 in F major, Op. 102 by Dmitri Shostakovich
Performer:  Paul Gulda (Piano)
Conductor:  Vladimir Fedoseyev
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1957; USSR 
Date of Recording: 01/1992/11/1993 
Venue:  Concert Hall of the Slovak Philharmonic, 
Length: 18 Minutes 14 Secs. 

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