The young and talented Canadian pianist, Jan Lisiecki paid a birthday tribute to Glenn Gould when performing his encore at the Roy Thomson Hall, Toronto with a rendition of the Aria from Bach’s Goldberg Variations.
Today marks the 111th anniversary of the birth of the great, twentieth century, Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich (25 September 1906 – 9 August 1975).
To celebrate the occasion we have been listening to his Symphony No. 1 in F minor, Op. 10 in a fine performance by Vladimir Jurowski conducting the Russian National Orchestra on the Pentatone label.
This might not be Shostakovich’s finest or best known symphony but it must surely rank among the most precociously brilliant symphonic debuts in the history of classical music. The entire symphony being completed in full score before Shostakovich reached the age of 20! This symphony became something of a favourite with Shostakovich and he alludes to it in his autobiographical String Quartet No. 8 in C minor, Op. 110 and in his final symphony.
Jurowski proves to be an impressive conductor in these works and he totally gets across both the drama and lyricism in this music. The recording adds to the listening pleasure with its fine balance allowing the solo piano, unexpectedly introduced in the second movement, to integrate well.
Alternatively purchase it as an SACD from Presto Classical.
Last Saturday on BBC’s Record Review, Mahan Esfahani recommended a recording of César Franck’s Symphony in D minor performed by the Orchestra de Paris conducted by Semyon Bychkov. Esfahani’s top choice is a very fine performance but unfortunately it is not currently available on a single CD: Amazon currently have a second-hand CD on offer for £
The Art of Semyon Bychkov for the more reasonable price of £57.25 again from Amazon!
For those readers who are happy with downloads then Presto Classical are offering the single CD as a download in CD-quality for £12.40. Now that we can recommend!
If you are intent on adding a really fine version of this symphony to your CD collection then, as an alternative, we would strongly recommend the version by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra conducted by Pierre Monteux. Listen to this on Spotify or buy it from the Amazon Marketplace as a new CD for less than £10. Listen, buy and enjoy!
The Piano Quintet in A major, D667 ‘The Trout’ by is one of the most popular pieces of chamber music. It was written when Schubert was 22 and is scored for the unusual combination of piano, violin, viola, cello, and double bass rather than for a piano and string quartet (two violins, viola, and cello). It was commissioned by a wealthy music lover who requested a work with the same instrumentation as used previously by Hummel in his Piano Quintet in E flat Op. 87. This piano quintet gained the nickname ‘The Trout’ because its the fourth movement is a set of variations on a song called The Trout that Schubert had previously composed.
This finely produced recording contains a a brisk, bracing performance that emphasises the music’s alfresco holiday spirit. The ensemble builds through the introduction to the opening allegro with a sure sense of where the music wants to go, and continues with lively rhythms and excellent balances. I particularly enjoyed the presence of the doublebass which is powerful without upsetting the overall balance. Overall this is a performance to bring a smile to your face!