Yuli Turovsky, the founder and director of I Musici de Montreal, must be credited with bringing out this marvelous new CD of music by Shostakovich and two of his close colleagues, German Galinin and Galina Ustvolskaya in works that were all written in 1946 in immediately post-war Russia. An old friend in new garb is Shostakovich's Third String Quartet, in F, Op. 73, as orchestrated for string orchestra, winds and harp by Rudolf Barshai, given opus number 73a. It is given a fresh, invigorating performance by Turovsky and his band. (This is not to be confused with Barshai's more familiar orchestration of the Eighth Quartet, which is also called a Chamber Symphony, designated Op. 110a.)
As well, we are happy to have the Piano Concerto by Galina Ustvolskaya, one-time student of Shostakovich (whom he asked to marry him early in the 1940s; she chose not to). This is an early work and is not entirely typical of her later style which tends to be hard-edged and percussive (one Dutch wit called her 'The Woman with a Hammer'). It is in one movement, but divided into several discernible sections, and lasts about seventeen minutes. It is by far the most 'romantic' of her compositions, and is more or less in C major/minor.
The most amazing and immediately appealing of the works here is the First Piano Concerto by German (or Herman) Germanovich Galinin (sometimes transliterated as Galynin, accent on the second syllable), an almost completely unknown Russian composer who also was a student of Shostakovich's. Indeed, this concerto reminds one of Shostakovich's own First Concerto with its brashness, fresh high spirits underpinned by a shy melancholy (especially in the long second movement). The rondo finale dispels earlier sadness and finishes in a blaze of pyrotechnics. Entirely tonal, brilliantly orchestrated, this concerto, receiving its first recording outside Russia, is a triumph and I can easily imagine it being taken up by pianists looking for new material; I am thrilled to have made its acquaintance.
The pianist in the two concerti is the very young Ukrainian, Sergei Salov (his first name is transliterated as 'Serhiy' in the Analekta booklet notes, but I notice that when he played this concerto with I Musici de Montreal in a concert last year their press release referred to him by the more familiar 'Sergei'). He is a very fine pianist whose fingerwork is pristine and his ability to mold a phrase preternaturally musical.
I would recommend this CD for the Galinin concerto alone, but both the Ustvolskaya concerto and the Shostakovich chamber symphony are given exceptional performances. Sound is excellent.