Scottish Ensemble - Ravel and Shostakovich - Gramophone [AW]
Hearing Shostakovich's imaginative treatment of texture in the tenth quarter should make anyone sceptical about the value of transcribing the score for a larger ensemble. But Rudolf Barshai, whose version of the Quartet No 8 won the composer's wholehearted approval, also turned the tenth into a 'chamber symphony'. Played by the twelve members of the Scottish Ensemble directed by Clio Gould, the result is a tour de force, with sizzling, effortless co-ordination and ample expressive range, despite (or because of?) the absence of a conductor. I would still rather hear this talented group in music which was originally conceived for chamber orchestra, especially when several works which they themselves have commissioned remain unrecorded. Yet I must also agree with Rob Cowan that this excellently recorded disc is irresistible, both in the Shostakovich and in Barshai's arrangement of the Ravel Quartet, which (a bold claim!) the composer himself could not have improved upon.