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Hyperion Records

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View of the Monument to Peter the Great in Senate Square, St Petersburg (1870) by Vasilij Ivanovic Surikov (1848-1916)
State Russian Museum, St Petersburg / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDA67865
Recording details: October 2010
Concert Hall, Wyastone Estate, Monmouth, United Kingdom
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Simon Eadon
Release date: February 2012
Total duration: 9 minutes 42 seconds

'A finely played programme that can be recommended with confidence' (Gramophone)

'Lawrence Power and Simon Crawford-Phillips embark on a musical narrative of epic proportions … a performance that shows great insight and poignancy. Framing the Sonata on this beautifully recorded disc are two extraordinarily resourceful transcriptions for viola and piano made by two of Shostakovich's contemporaries. The highest compliment that can be paid to the duo's strongly characterised performances of the Op 34 Seven Preludes is that the music sounds as if it were made for these instruments' (BBC Music Magazine)

'This fine Shostakovich CD … Power and Crawford-Phillips are eloquent interpreters, spare as well as generous in expressing the work's pervasive melancholy' (The Observer)

'Ever since Lawrence Power emerged several years ago as one of the world's finest exponents of the viola I have wanted him to record Shostakovich's masterly viola sonata, his last completed work. This new recording fulfils all of my expectations … such is the extraordinary nature of this sonata that it does not respond to any kind of superficial treatment, and Power's performance is, on balance, the most penetrating I have ever heard' (International Record Review)

'Power and Crawford-Phillips leave us in no doubt of the stature of this final masterpiece … one of Power's most compelling recordings yet for Hyperion' (The Sunday Times)

'A most impressive rendering of the score's unique sound world, faithfully caught by Hyperion's engineering' (The Strad)

Seven Preludes from 24 Preludes, Op 34
30 December 1932 to 2 March 1933

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Yevgeny Vladimirovich Strakhov (1909–1978), prominent pedagogue and orchestral soloist, studied with Vadim Vasilyevich Borisovsky (1900–1972) at the Moscow Conservatory in the 1930s, and taught at the same institution from 1936 until his death. He played in the Moscow Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra from his student days, and in the 1950s became soloist and section leader in the USSR State Symphony Orchestra. Among his hundred or so arrangements is one of Shostakovich’s Cello Sonata, as well as these seven piano preludes.

The twenty-six-year-old Shostakovich composed his set of 24 Preludes between 30 December 1932 and 2 March 1933, roughly six years after his previous solo piano pieces, the Aphorisms, Op 13. Their directness and sharply defined characters are surely indebted to the huge amounts of music for stage and screen he had composed in the intervening years. At the same time, they showcase his newly evolving neoclassical style, already more than halfway towards the obligatory moderated language he adopted from the Fifth Symphony (1937) onwards. More practically, they served as vehicles for his own appearances as pianist. Since the first Chopin competition in 1927, where Shostakovich made a strong impression but was not among the top prize winners, he had given up thoughts of a solo performing career. But he continued to perform his own music, and from the late 1940s he also recorded much of it, including twelve of the Op 34 Preludes.

Strakhov’s transcriptions may not be as well known as those by Dmitry Tsïganov for violin and piano, but they are no less resourceful. The pieces are transposed to suit the configuration of the viola, which is generally allocated the main thematic lines (though the fast waltz, No 15, effectively reverses the roles). The French titles are the transcriber’s—the originals give initial tempo indications only—though they take hints from Shostakovich’s notation when the character is less than obvious. The ‘Mélodie amoureuse’, for instance, picks up the ‘amoroso’ marking for the melody beginning in the third bar. The composer’s own recorded performance of this prelude goes a step further, suggesting tipsy strumming in a late-night bar.

from notes by David Fanning © 2012

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