"The most noteworthy item here is the Chamber Symphony of 1940 by Georgy Sviridov, receiving its first recording. Sviridov was one of Shostakovich’s first pupils in the late 1930s and later became famous in his own right as one of the finest and most popular of song composers in the Soviet Union. The flow of influence between teacher and pupil went both ways; but in this early work, as in the Piano Trio of 1945, the teacher’s hand on the shoulder is understandably evident.
Nevertheless, this is a serious and intelligent work, its moods wiry and intense almost throughout. It starts with strong echoes of the opening pages of Mahler’s Seventh Symphony, continues with a slightly jaunty but also slightly melancholy allegro that soon acquires considerable toughness, and concludes with a finale that deflects from its initial energetic paths into more thoughtful moods. According to Manashir Yakubov’s essay, the manuscript was ‘mislaid for several decades’ but was prepared by the composer in a new edition especially for Bashmet. The performance conveys a fine passion and sense of authority.
The first of Vainberg’s four chamber symphonies is for the most part a gentler, almost autumnal affair, and its subtle shades are beautifully appreciated by Bashmet and his top-class ensemble. Misha Rachlevsky’s more overtly expressive account, coupled with Vainberg’s Third and Fourth Chamber Symphonies, is by no means displaced, though I should record that Bashmet, unlike Rachlevsky, does observe the first movement repeat. At any rate, it is heartening to think that Bashmet’s advocacy may bring this marvellous score to a wider audience.
The 18-strong Moscow Soloists are an impressive cohort and no mistake. There are few more finely played accounts than this of Barshai’s arrangement of Shostakovich’s Eighth Quartet. However, there are plenty that are more musically perceptive. Bashmet’s inability to resist soloistic nuances leads to a laboured impression in the outer movements, and had he thought to check the score of the original he would surely have corrected a glaring misprint in Barshai’s transcription at 1’33” in the last movement.
Nevertheless, for the Sviridov alone this is an issue not be missed by the specialist collector, and it comes in an admirably judged recording."
Gramophone - January 2006
"One of the world’s top viola players, Yuri Bashmet is also devoted to leading the Moscow Soloists chamber orchestra. This disc revolves around chamber symphonies by Shostakovich and two of his disciples: Gyorgy Sviridov (1915-98) and Moishe Vainberg (1919-96).
Transcribed by Rudolf Barshai from Shostakovich’s String Quartet No. 8 -- which the composer wrote in Dresden and dedicated to "the victims of war and Fascism" -- his Chamber Symphony Op. 110a is one of the repertoire’s most gripping works. If deliberately slow-burning in spots, this performance has a vast emotional/dynamic range, with the music ultimately echoing in the ears like a long howl of pain.
Although the score was lost for decades, Sviridov made a new version of his 1940 Chamber Symphony for Bashmet. The piece bears the anxiety of Shostakovich’s influence; yet it will appeal to anyone enamored of that intense mid-century Russian sound. Vainberg’s Chamber Symphony No. 1 sounds almost Mozartian in comparison. As anyone who has heard his Violin Concerto knows, this Warsaw-born composer had a lyrical gift; it only takes a darker turn here in the long, emotive Andante. As with everything on this disc, it’s richly played and recorded."
New York Star Ledger - February 2006
"The recording quality is absolutely superb, and the playing of the Moscow Soloists is beyond reproach, making this a very desirable issue...The Moscow Soloists make as good a job as I have heard. I enjoyed it very much. The incisiveness of the playing is outstanding, and this is aided and abetted by the extreme clarity and warmth of the recording.
The couplings are fascinating, both of them written by so-called pupils of the composer. ...All of the works here are thoroughly enjoyable, and I hope the disc enjoys the success which it deserves. I look forward to hearing the next instalment."
MuiscWebInternational - 6 February 2006
"Chamber symphonies by Sviridov and Vainberg on a new album by the Moscow Soloists (ONYX4007 )... harbour their fair share of surprises. Vainberg’s piece opens mildly enough, a little like Joseph Suk’s Serenade, but soon reveals a tougher heart, the Baroque overtones of the second movement, which opens with gently plucked lower strings and a melody slowly building above them, generates considerable intensity. The high-point of the programme, which is expertly directed by the violist Yuri Bashmet, is an urgent performance of the Chamber symphony that Rudolf Barshai fashioned from Shostakovich’s Eighth String Quartet. You won’t find many quartet recordings that hammer out the fourth movement’s imitated gunfire as forcefully as Bashmet’s Muscovites do on this well-engineered recording."
The Independent - 6 December 2005
- Classical "CD of the week" -
"This is a terrific example of ensemble string-playing. The 18 players of Yuri Bashmet’s Moscow Soloists bring corporate vigour, subtlety and virtuosity to bear on a trio of diverse Soviet chamber symphonies. The only one of these likely to be familiar is the string-orchestra expansion of Shostakovich’s best-known string quartet, the Eighth, by Rudolf Barshai. And its transformation has never been so vindicated as here, where its tragedy takes on a more universal mien. The bite of the playing and the exploitation of the music’s gut-wrenching emotion grip the ear from beginning to end.
The Chamber Symphony by Shostakovich’s pupil Gyorgy Sviridov is a much less fraught work. It is easy to detect the influence of the teacher in its melodies and harmonies, but there is also a more untroubled lyrical vein less often encountered in Shostakovich’s work. Finally, the first of the four chamber symphonies by Moishei Vainberg is a delightfully pungent neoclassical work composed as recently as 1986. Again, in both these works, the dynamism of the Moscow Soloists’ playing has freshness and life, and the whole disc is superbly engineered to capture all the music’s range and depth."
The Daily Telegraph - 14 January 2006
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