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Bob McQuiston
Classical Lost and Found, May 2017

SHOSTAKOVICH, D.: Chamber Symphony, Op. 73a / Symphony for Strings, Op. 118a (Kiev Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra, Yablonsky) 8.573601
SHOSTAKOVICH, D.: Chamber Symphonies, Opp. 49a, 110a and 83a (Kiev Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra, Yablonsky) 8.573466

The Ukrainian National Chamber Ensemble known as the “Kiev Soloists” under their principal conductor, Dmitry Yablonsky, play this music to perfection. It’s obvious from the many solos that these musicians are all virtuosos in their own right. That plus Naxos bargain prices, make these two discs the obvious choice for those wishing to acquire all five works.

They project an ideally sized sonic image in enrichingly reverberant surroundings with all the instruments well placed and balanced. The overall timbre is lifelike with bright, pleasant highs, except as noted above, a musical midrange, and clean bass with no low string hangover. Twentieth century Russian music enthusiasts as well as any audiophiles among them won’t want to be without these CDs. © 2017 Classical Lost and Found Read complete review

David Hurwitz, September 2016

These loving transcriptions of Shostakovich quartets by Rudolf Barshai have become quite popular, and rightly so. They work extremely well and offer chamber orchestras some very worthy repertoire consisting of truly great music. Yablonsky’s performances are very good…

Perhaps the best performance is that of the Chamber Symphony in C minor (a.k.a. String Quartet No. 8). This is a really harrowing, take-no-prisoners interpretation with a scorching second movement and a fourth movement Largo where you really can hear the bombs dropping on Dresden. The last two movements of the Fourth Quartet are also very powerful—the final climax is pretty overwhelming… this is an appealing release, well recorded. © 2016 Read complete review

Christiane Franke, July 2016

Yablonsky and his Kiev Soloists play…with cutting directness and uncover this music in a way that even connoisseurs might listen to something previously unheard. © 2016

Huntley Dent
Fanfare, July 2016

The mystique of the Shostakovich Eighth Quartet remains powerful, and although nothing can really replace the original, Barshai’s transcription, made very shortly after the work’s premiere, is a moving tribute. Yablonsky and his Kiev forces clearly feel the intensity of the music and transmit it clearly. © 2016 Fanfare Read complete review

Geoff Adams
Otago Daily Times, May 2016

[Rudolf Barshai’s] transcriptions of Shostakovich’s works were ambitious; and they served as a catalyst for many future reworkings from string ensemble to full orchestra.

…Fine performance by chamber orchestra. © 2016 Otago Daily Times Read complete review

Remy Franck
Pizzicato, April 2016

Recorded right during tough days of the Ukraine crises in 2014, these three Shostakovich chamber symphonies by Rudolf Barschai are brilliantly played. But, above all, with the music coming deep out of the composer’s soul, they carry away the listener emotionally. © 2016 Pizzicato

David Denton
David's Review Corner, March 2016

Rudolf Barshai arranged five of Shostakovich’s fifteen String Quartets, so characterful are they of the composer, they could have been his original scores. Barshai, in his many years as a member of the Borodin Quartet, was frequently in contact with the composer when they were performing his quartets, and he latterly directed the Moscow Chamber Orchestra, also in Shostakovich’s presence. It was, however, many years after the composer’s death that most of Barshai’s transcriptions took place, all of them, apart from the Fourth Quartet, remaining in the world of string ensembles. Indeed the transcription of the Eighth has always struck me as more riveting than the original score, the sheer power a string group can bring to the second movement making it quite awesome. It contrasts with the sadness and solitude of fourth movement and the bleak finale that in my mind pictures the desolation of a deserted battlefield. For the Fourth he augments the strings with single woodwind, two horns, percussion and timpani, and I can see the temptation, some phrases sitting very happily on woodwind, though I am dubious about the use of the tam-tam in the finale. The catalogue is not overburdened with alternatives of this release, though Naxos already have a fine account of the Eighth from the Dalgat String Ensemble in a rough-hewn vigour (8.550953). Here the Kiev Soloists are something very special under their conductor, Dmitry Yablonsky, the vigour, excitement and impact of the young ensemble, that we see in their booklet picture, together an intrinsic Russian quality places them among the world’s best chamber groups. The recorded sound is well defined. My top choice of the month. © 2016 David’s Review Corner

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