, November 2011
There’s much to celebrate here, from the impish little waltz to the big-boned, Bachian fugue, the latter played with tongue wedged firmly in cheek. The organ is somewhat upfront, but the Delos recording is generally fine, offering wide dynamics and a decent soundstage. There’s a real sense of being seated in a darkened auditorium, enchanted, this solo reminiscent of von Stroheim’s Gothic musings in Sunset Boulevard or, perhaps, the accompaniment to Lugosi’s Murders in the Rue Morgue. That said, the outrageous orchestral onslaught that follows—no-one does bombast better—had me laughing out loud. But then there’s the louring intermezzo and funeral march, both typical of Shostakovich’s work in the genre—glimpses of symphonic mastery side-swiped by music of raw populism and punch. And if it’s full-on you’re after, just listen to that riotous finale.
Nay-sayers will insist these scores underline the inherent vulgarity of this composer’s œuvre—their loss. DSCH fans will have this disc on their shelves already; newbies will find much to enjoy here too. Read complete review