Shostakovich - Scottish Ensemble - The Strad

Rudolf Barshai's skilful arrangement for string orchestra of Shostakovich's Eigth Quartet is extremely well served by Clio Gould's talented small ensemble. Assisted by a real and vivid recording, these players communicate the composer's horror of war with appropriate dramatic intensity, particularly in the turbulent second movement. The ensuing waltz-like Allegretto is neatly injected with all the requisite lilt, rythmic detail and acerbity, and the working out of the DSCH motif and the composer's various self-quotations are given due significance, most notably in the greif-stricken final Largo. The quality of the string playing throughout is outstanding: admirably expressive, fearlessly virtuosic and surprisingly full-toned.

Such standards are maintained in the Two Pieces for string octet op. 11, whose Prelude's mixed emotions are convincingly delineated and whose Scherzo is dispatched with a feverish and sometimes frenzied brilliance. And the players accompany with alertness and vitality in a fresh, enjoyable account of Shostakovich's exuberant First Piano Concerto for piano, trumpet and strings, with Sophia Rahman and John Wallace as the highly accomplished soloists.

The Strad
01 July 2000