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Stephen Estep
American Record Guide, November 2017

The Kiev Virtuosi sound more like a chamber orchestra, the textures are clearer, and the more immediate sonics give their playing even greater intensity. In the grittier passages, as in II of the Symphony for Strings, their take-no-prisoners approach mitigates the natural softening that happens when several strings are playing lines meant for one. The Adagio is wondrously serene. © 2017 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide

David Hurwitz, September 2017

This second and final installment in Dmitry Yablonsky’s survey of “the Barshai cycle” of chamber symphonies arranged from Shostakovich’s string quartets is, on the whole, even more impressive than the first. …Yablonsky’s performance has a raw energy that many will recognize as distinctly “Russian.” The opening Allegretto, in particularly, is notably slower than in most quartet performances, but heavily accented and bitingly satirical as played here. It’s a fine performance overall that really does reimagine the work as scored for larger forces.

The Symphony for Strings Op. 118a takes the Tenth Quartet as its basis. A very powerful piece, perhaps the greatest of the composer’s late quartets, the second movement Allegretto furioso recalls the second movement of the Tenth Symphony, the Toccata of the Eighth, and the wild second movement of the Eighth Quartet. It other words, it’s super intense, and so is this performance. The occasional raw edge only serves to highlight the immediacy of expression. Yablonsky knows his Shostakovich and, a cellist himself, he also knows how to get his players to perform with a gutsiness and energy that  never turns crude. © 2017 Read complete review

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 [Kiev Virtuosi] 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

Remy Franck
Pizzicato, May 2017

Playing with great intensity, Dmitry Yablonsky and the Kiev Virtuosi dig deep in Shostakovich’s music and grippingly show the composer’s torn feelings. © 2017 Pizzicato

David Denton
David's Review Corner, April 2017

This second disc from the young Kiev Virtuosi completes Rudolf Barshai’s now familiar arrangements of five of Dmitri Shostakovich’s fifteen String Quartets. For many years, Barshai was the distinguished viola in the Borodin Quartet, and, as they were among the foremost exponents of Shostakovich’s quartets, he was frequently brought into contact with the composer. However, it was many years after the composer’s death that most of Barshai’s transcriptions took place, thereby never having the composer’s blessing. That raises the question as to whether Shostakovich would have wanted the introduction of woodwind in the arrangement of the Third Quartet, that issue confused here by the sleeve note writer describing it as the ‘Symphony for Strings’, whereas Barshai gave it the correct title, ‘Chamber Symphony’. In its original guise it has become one of the most often played works, though this five-movement score, with its explosive third movement, originally fell foul of the communist diktat. Unlike Barshai’s arrangement of the Fourth, where he added woodwind and brass to beef-up the texture, here he uses woodwind in the most delicate moments, their distinctive colour bringing unusual textural colours, particularly in the movement’s withdrawn slow movement. His arrangement of the Tenth Quartet is less contentious, Barshai largely content on distributing the score to a much enlarged string quartet with passages given to solo instruments. It was the one arrangement Barshai completed while Shostakovich was alive, and obviously received the composer’s blessing. When reviewing the earlier disc I commented that ‘the [Kiev Virtuosi] are something very special under their conductor, Dmitry Yablonsky, with the vigour, excitement and impact of a young ensemble’, and that is equally true of this second instalment. The exactitude of their playing is linked to a massive dynamic range that packs a power far greater than their size suggests. The engineer has gone in far too close to the clarinet in the Chamber Symphony, but that apart the recording is equally outstanding. © 2017 David’s Review Corner

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