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David Fanning
Gramophone, February 2002

"On Naxos, the younger Russian ex-patriot Konstantin Scherbakov represents a fabulous bargain - at a fraction of the cost of any other. He displays wonderfully nimble, energetic finger work and scores over Ashkenzy in the meditative, slow fugues."

Richard Todd
Ottawa Citizen, December 2001

"The Opus 87, regarded as the most successful piece of its kind after Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier, is in excellent hands."

Robert Cummings
Classical Net, December 2001

"Indeed, they are pure music, and if a bit arid, they are quite rewarding, especially to the ear willing to reconcile 20th century music with Bachian styles. Scherbakov's take on them here is clearly the way to hear them, and Naxos provides vivid sound and fine notes."

Robert Cummings
Classical Net, September 2001

"Indeed, they are pure music, and if a bit arid, they are quite rewarding, especially to the ear willing to reconcile 20th century music with Bachian styles. Scherbakov's take on them here is clearly the way to hear them, and Naxos provides vivid sound and fine notes."

Robert Baxter
Courier-Post, March 2001

"Displaying a natural feel for the melodic line, Scherbakov phrases the music as effortlessly as he surmounts the technical challenges in Shostakovich's music. He draws a full, clear sound from his piano and summons power when needed¡Kthis performance provides a fine introduction to a masterful score at a budget price."

Jed Distler, March 2001

"Konstantin Scherbakov's 24 Shostakovich Preludes and Fugues leapfrog to the head of a small yet distinguished class on disc, whose valedictorians include Tatiana Nikolaeva and Vladimir Ashkenazy. Time and again I am struck by expressive and textural novelties that inevitably result from Scherbakov's fastidious adherence to Shostakovich's markings. The pianist connects the A minor Prelude's scurrying 16th-notes with a seamless legato that still manages to allow each one to speak softly. He treats the D major Prelude's right-hand arpeggiated chords in a slightly detached manner in order to offset the left hand's cello-like legato line. In the F-sharp minor Fugue Scherbakov takes special care to differentiate the levels of soft dynamics. He maintains Fugue No. 15's marcatissimo directive with unyielding vehemence, while effortlessly clarifying the difficult-to-disentangle voices.

"Those familiar with Nikolaeva's freer treatment of the 16th fugue's elaborate subject will be surprised at the profile and contrast it acquires when played in strict time, as Scherbakov does. As a result, the uneven duplets truly stand out from the even ones. On the other hand, the 14th Prelude's tremolos sometimes threaten to cover the melodic material. Here both Nikolaeva and the composer relegate these tremolos to a spooky background murmur, and make more of the motto theme's tenutos. And Scherbakov sometimes plays down Shostakovich's edgy humor. Yet these quibbles are about aesthetic choices, not interpretive faults, and really don't matter in the larger context of Scherbakov's achievement. His interpretations are thought out, deeply pondered, prepared to the nth degree, and played with a perfect fusion of technique and soul. Even listeners who consider these works arid and somewhat pedantic will change their minds after hearing Scherbakov. A triumph."

Christopher Thomas

"On the face of it, it is still hard to believe that this masterful cycle met with an 'iron' reception when Shostakovich first presented it to the Soviet authorities following its composition exactly fifty years ago. Listening to the full cycle for the first time in several years I was immediately struck with a fresh sense of awe at the scale, expressive range and ultimately, sheer genius of the composer's achievement.

"By turns disarmingly simple and beautiful, dark and brooding, bitingly ironic, even joyous, it is all here in abundance. Perhaps too much abundance for the Soviet authorities to deal with. The composer himself warned against viewing the cycle as a whole although I have to say that for me at least, the experience of reacquainting myself with listening to the complete work, albeit in two halves, has been well worth the time and concentration involved. There is a cumulative power here which simply cannot be dismissed.

"Konstantin Scherbakov is a fine advocate of the work. Born in Siberia in 1963 he is known in this country chiefly through his recordings for Naxos and Marco Polo but judging by this recording it would be good to hear more of him in recital. He ...[achieves] a freshness in performance which immediately demands attention. There is a delicacy and deftness of touch in his playing allied with a natural sense of line and phrasing which can be both compelling and moving. Even in some of the more densely textured fugal passages the various strands of melody are clearly articulated and can always be heard. He is aided by a warm but not over resonant recording which allows the detail to come through well.

"At Naxos budget price this two disc set is not merely an excellent introduction for those new to this music. The performance is worthy of a wider audience and I am sure that Shostakovich enthusiasts will find much to enjoy in Scherbakov's playing. Richard Whitehouse provides a brief but useful introduction to each piece in he booklet. My only quibble is that Naxos did not see fit to provide individual timings for each track."

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