Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Boris Giltburg in Shostakovich

Igor, Boris, Yevgeny .. why are there no pianists called Harry, Eric, or Fred? But I suppose some are also called Yuja or Xiayin. An inferiority feeling listening to Boris Giltburg playing Shostakovich (accompanied by Vasily .. not Harry, Eric, or Fred, Petrenko). It appears that, for more than a century, if you wish to be taken seriously as a pianist or a violinist, you have to get yourself a Russian name. And especially a Russian background and heritage.

Moscow-born Boris Giltburg dominates a new (Naxos) CD of Shostakovich's music. With the Liverpool Philharmonic under Vasily Petrenko, he plays Shostakovich's two piano concertos and the results are splendid. A really interesting aspect of the new CD, however, is Giltburg's own arrangements for piano only of Shostakovich's eighth string quartet (and of the waltz movement from the second). Piano arrangements of the self-sufficient world of the string quartet are something of an oddity. I love the Shostakovich string quartets; and I also loved listening to Giltburg's playing. The arrangements are best regarded as new Shostakovich works, rather than renditions of the string quartets, but none the worse for that. The piano concertos are lighter fare in Shostakovich's oeuvre; the string quartets more complex, and this comes over on this CD, even with the solo piano arrangements. The concertos feature Shostakovich the famous artist, and the popular entertainer. The string quartets show us Shostakovich the private, and often haunted, person. Bravo Mr Giltburg for highlighting the two sides of the composer on this very welcome CD.

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