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CHAN 6617
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CHAN 6617

Shostakovich: Chamber Symphony · Symphony for Strings · From Jewish Folk Poetry

The Classical Shop
release date: July 2000

Originally recorded in 1999


I Musici de Montréal

Yuli Turovsky

Mary Ann Hart


Nadia Pelle


Rodney Nolan



Church of Ste Madeleine, Outremont, Montreal

Paroisse La Nativite, La Prairie, Quebec

St Pierre Apotre, Montreal


Brian Couzens

(Chamber Symphony & Symphony for Strings

Ralph Couzens

(From Jewish Folk Poetry)


Ralph Couzens

Record Label


Orchestral & Concertos


Total Time - 74:25
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Chamber Symphony, Op. 110a

  (arr. Barshai from String Quartet No. 8)  
  in C minor  
1 I Largo - 5:15
2 II Allegro molto - 3:04
3 III Allegretto - 4:37
4 IV Largo - 6:31
5 V Largo 4:02

Symphony for Strings, Op. 118a

  (arr. Barshai from String Quartet No. 10)  
  in A flat major  
6 I Andante 5:03
7 II Allegretto furioso 4:52
8 III Adagio - 6:43
9 IV Allegretto 9:37

From Jewish Folk Poetry*

10 1 The lament for the dead child 2:34
11 2 The thoughtful mother and aunt 1:54
12 3 Lullaby 2:55
13 4 Before a long parting 2:42
14 5 A warning 1:24
15 6 The abandoned father 1:56
16 7 The song of misery 1:25
17 8 Winter 3:13
18 9 A good life 1:41
19 10 The young gilr's song 3:13
20 11 Happiness 1:44
An insightful collection of three of Shostakovich’s most powerful and autobiographical works.

This is a unique coupling and includes the Chamber Symphony and Symphony for Strings which were both originally composed by Shostakovich as string quartets and later orchestrated by Rudolf Barshai.

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

F Schmid

P Brycki