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SHOSTAKOVICH, D.: Piano Concertos Nos. 1 and 2 / String Quartet No. 8 (arr. for piano) (Giltburg, Owens, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, V. Petrenko)

Naxos 8.573666

   Fanfare, July 2017
   American Record Guide, July 2017
   MusicWeb International, June 2017
   Lark Reviews, April 2017
   Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review, March 2017
   Record Geijutsu, March 2017
   MusicWeb International, February 2017
   Financial Times, February 2017, February 2017
   BBC Music Magazine, February 2017
   WFMT (Chicago), January 2017
   The Guardian, January 2017, January 2017
   Pizzicato, January 2017
   Musical Toronto, January 2017, January 2017
   Gramophone, January 2017
   David's Review Corner, January 2017

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Phillip Scott
Fanfare, July 2017

Boris Giltburg has more than enough technical dexterity and power to play these works. In No. 1’s slow movement he packs a punch in the climactic passage, and is suitably inward in the sad waltz that follows, helped by beautifully hushed preparation from Petrenko’s RLPO strings. In the third movement Giltburg’s control and polish neutralize the Keystone Cops anarchy, but his is a strong performance.

Giltburg gets first-class support from Peterenko and his Liverpudlian forces, who have a notable track record in Shostakovich. © 2017 Fanfare Read complete review

Stephen Estep
American Record Guide, July 2017

The concertos are excellent, playful, and brimming with verve and wit. Giltburg has thought through each phrase and given it its own personality and direction; he and the orchestra are fully engaged. The slow movement of the Second is beautifully calm. Giltburg, with the permission of Shostakovich’s estate, arranged the Eighth Quartet and the ‘Waltz’ from the Second for solo piano. The ‘Waltz’ and movements I, III, IV, and V from the Eighth work well—they sound very natural and effective, especially since there are few places in the quartet that rely on long sustained notes. © 2017 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide

Michael Cookson
MusicWeb International, June 2017

These splendidly played arrangements work quite well and I’m glad I’ve heard them, nevertheless the amount of colour and texture lost in this new guise is far more marked than I expected. Recorded successfully at Concert Hall, Wyastone Leys the engineering team has provided Giltburg with cool, clear sound. © 2017 MusicWeb International Read complete review

Lark Reviews, April 2017

Boris Giltburg is a most convincing soloist for the two Shostokovich piano concertos with a lively trumpet in the first concerto from Rhys Owens. The additional pleasure here is the arrangements of two string quartets for piano solo. We have two movements from the Op68 quartet—the Waltz and Allegro—and a complete performance of the String Quartet No 8. This later was made with the permission of the Shostakovich family and proves to be a darkly defined composition which is not out of place as a solo piece. © 2017 Lark Reviews

Grego Applegate Edwards
Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review, March 2017

…the music holds plenty of attractions for us today. Very Russian in a Shostakovichian way, with enough modern touches to put them in the time frame of the then-present, they have real appeal and bittersweet poignancy when played in the ultra-spirited, then ultra-lyrical manner of Giltburg and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic.

If the piano concertos represent Shostakovich’s brilliant transcendence over orthodoxy, his Quartet No. 8 is a bitter rejection of it. There is stark contrast here, but with the dedicated performances on the disk, there is ultimate triumph!

Recommended heartily. © 2017 Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review Read complete review

Record Geijutsu, March 2017

The concerto is an outstanding performance in recent years. Boris Giltburg’s performance is precise and with articulated touch, sharpen rhythm and he expresses brilliantly the smart humor and speed. I feel good with his performance!

Rhys Owens’s trumpet is also good and the orchestra conducted by [Petrenko] is certainly perfect.

And the coupling piece is also attractive, String Quartet No. 2, third movement “Waltz”, and No. 8, arranged for piano. No. 8 is arranged in a more dramatical sonata, changing the tempo freely.

No. 2 is interesting. This piece in piano begins from a kind of ghost of a waltz of Chopin, but the construction remarks a threatening development and finally, it enriches the music. © 2017 Record Geijutsu

Simon Thompson
MusicWeb International, February 2017

Boris Giltburg has burst relatively recently onto the international piano scene, but what a splash he has made!

Shostakovich’s piano concertos are a natural next step for him, their combination of humour and depth appealing to his gifts, and it was inspired to pair him up with the UK’s most lauded Shostakovich team in Petrenko and the RLPO. The results are, predictably, of the very highest quality.

For one thing, Petrenko and Giltburg are very clearly on the same page in terms of the music’s mood. The First Concerto blows a raspberry at the outset, and sets off with madcap actions and zany swerves that are worthy of a silent movie score. I loved the feeling of the music’s unpredictability. Anything could happen here! There is energy in the orchestral playing and direction that is utterly winning, and the strings heap glory upon themselves with the emotional weight that they find for the first concerto’s Lento, one of the composer’s most moving elegies. The finale is particularly winning, and I loved the sense of orchestra and soloists not so much finishing one another’s sentences as interrupting each other, or chasing each other around the room! Giltburg gets brilliantly inside the enforced optimism of the first movement, and he seems to drift through a whole spectrum of emotions for the ensuing Lento movement, duetting with the strings with enormous poignancy.

Rhys Owens keeps the trumpet’s end up, even though Shostakovich seems to forget about him for lengthy periods, and the recorded balance is good, matching him with Giltburg as an equal, though a little more blend with the orchestra might have worked better. In every other respect, however, the recording is top notch. His muted solo in the slow movement is magical, full of unfulfillable longing, expressed in long, slow lines that are very moving.

The second concerto is both lighter-hearted and more acerbic. The jaunty winds that launch the first movement are jovially ignored by the piano as it sets off on its own course, and the manic central section seems to plough a still different furrow. This work feels lighter in mood—though, of course, with Shostakovich, you can never be sure—and there is more airiness and propulsion to the music, something Petrenko brings to life brilliantly with the big string theme around five minutes into the first movement. Predictably, the slow movement is absolutely gorgeous, moving unhurriedly through the strings’ opening to the piano’s blissfully meandering theme, and the interaction between them is beautifully judged. The finale is sparky, irreverent and full of energy. Someone once likened this movement to a clown on a unicycle throwing custard pies, and if that’s a crude analogy then it’s actually a rather lovely one. Petrenko gets all the orchestral vigour into the mix, and Giltburg’s playing is remarkably disciplined, his precision making the controlled chaos sound all the more impressive.

The recorded sound is excellent for both venues, the performances are top notch and, importantly, the mood is impeccably judged by a team of expert Shostakovich interpreters. Perhaps it doesn’t quite displace Alexander Melnikov’s recent Shostakovich disc as a top choice for the concertos, but it comes pretty damn close and has the quartet arrangements as a USP. It can also be yours for a fraction of Melnikov’s cost.

Snap it up! © 2017 MusicWeb International Read complete review

Financial Times, February 2017

Pianist Boris Giltburg is a man on a mission: to bring some of Shostakovich’s deepest and most emotionally powerful music to the solo piano. And to that end he has arranged the composer’s Eighth Quartet (with the Shostakovich estate’s blessing) for the piano. The good news is that it works astonishingly well: yes, one might occasionally miss the sustaining power of a string ensemble in some of the slower music, but weigh against this the sheer percussive brilliance of the piano, particularly in the faster, more demonic passages, not to mention the sheer depth of tone and single-minded focus that Giltburg brings to the music.

And then there are dazzling new performances of Shostakovich’s two piano concertos. …Giltburg matched by superlative playing from the strings of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic under the sympathetic direction of Vasily Petrenko.

As for the more popular First Piano Concerto, this is a tremendously impressive performance, unerringly catching the composer’s many faces: youthfully playful, sharply sardonic, deadly earnest. The RLPO’s principal trumpet is a worthy partner in a work that started life as a double concerto, clearly on his mettle in the outer movements, and utterly haunting in the Lento slow movement. As for Giltburg himself, he’s on stunning form: not just secure of tone but kaleidoscopically colourful and emotionally wide-ranging, and above all with a superb clarity and sureness of touch. © 2017 Financial Times Read complete review

Robert Benson, February 2017

This new Naxos Shostakovich disk is very special. It contains the two piano concertos as well as some of the composer’s music for string quartet arranged for piano by the performer, Boris Giltburg. …The pianist, with encouragement from the composer’s family, made a transcription for solo piano of String Quartet No. 8, one of Shostakovich’s darkest works written during a tragic part of his life. Some say it is autobiographical, with a last movement of grief slowly fading away. It seems like a rather odd work to transcribe for piano, but it surely works here. © 2017 Read complete review

BBC Music Magazine, February 2017

Petrenko matches Giltburg’s dashing virtuosity and subtlety © 2017 BBC Music Magazine

Lisa Flynn
WFMT (Chicago), January 2017

Shostakovich’s two piano concertos span a period of almost thirty years. The youthful First is a masterful example of eclecticism, its virtuoso writing enhanced by solo trumpet. Written as a birthday present for his son Maxim, the Second is light-spirited with a hauntingly beautiful slow movement. With the permission of the composer’s family, Boris Giltburg has arranged the deeply personal and powerful String Quartet No 8 for piano. © 2017 WFMT (Chicago)

Nicholas Kenyon
The Guardian, January 2017

Pianist and arranger Boris Giltburg gives sharp-edged accounts of the two concertos: the strident First more successful than the jokey Second. Excellent support from trumpeter Rhys Owens and the Liverpool Philharmonic. © 2017 The Guardian Read complete review

David Hurwitz, January 2017

These are big, bold, in-your-face performances that find a wider range of expression in both works than you might have believed possible. Much of the credit for this belongs to Vasily Petrenko as well, who continues his series of top-notch Shostakovich recordings for Naxos.

A great disc. © 2017 Read complete review

Remy Franck
Pizzicato, January 2017

The absolutely fascinating and gorgeous accounts of Shostakovich’s Piano Concertos would certainly be sufficient in argument to recommend this CD, but it’s with Giltburg’s singular piano transcription of the String Quartet op. 110 that the new Naxos production can carry the strongest possible recommendation. © 2017 Pizzicato

Norman Lebrecht
Musical Toronto, January 2017

What is so appealing about this record is that the Boris Giltburg has rethought the works through the prism of the composer’s experiences.

With devastating precision, Giltburg—Moscow-born and winner of the Reine Elisabeth prize—has interpolated between the concertos his own piano reductions of one movement of the second string quartet and the entirety of the eight quartet, contemporaneous with the two piano concertos, exposing the composer’s seditious inner thoughts. This is a constantly illuminating, almost faultless project. © 2017 Musical Toronto Read complete review, January 2017

The quartet is a complex work, difficult both to play and to hear, and Giltburg has done a remarkable job of reducing it to piano form without having it sound like a reduction. …Giltburg’s arrangement comes across as a tribute to Shostakovich, an argument that this composer’s music, like that of Bach, can at least sometimes be independent of the instruments on which it is performed, its underlying emotional resonance coming through differently but equally strongly on an instrument for which the work was never intended—but one that is quite capable of evoking the feelings that Shostakovich strove so hard to elicit. © 2017 Read complete review

David Fanning
Gramophone, January 2017

Giltburg offers fully projected, concert-hall-style accounts, with all the richness of pedal and no-holds-barred attack that would suggest. © 2017 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone

David Denton
David's Review Corner, January 2017

Winning the prestigious Queen Elisabeth Competition in 2013 launched the Moscow-born pianist, Boris Giltburg, on a career now taking him around the world. With a long-term recording contract with Naxos, his performances of the two piano concertos complement the label’s complete Shostakovich symphony cycle from Vasily Petrenko and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. Separated by almost thirty years they are very differing works, the First, from 1933, being a rather curious mix of introverted thoughts of despair in the central two movements, countered by a finale of pure fun and joy, the keyboard joined by a chirpy solo trumpet in passages of knockabout burlesque. The Second concerto came after traumatic years in his career, and was composed as a Nineteenth birthday present for his son, Maxim, who was to be the soloist in its premiere. Two energized outer movements surround a second movement laced with melancholy and containing the most beautiful melody he ever wrote. Giltburg takes a lightweight approach to the finale and is not quite as successful as Petrenko in sustaining the passage with five beats to the bar, the trap being to unwittingly slip into the normal six beats, even the composer’s recording is not perfect. Thus far it is strongly recommended, though your choice, from the many versions already available, may well be decided by the coupling, here largely given to Giltburg’s piano transcription of the Eighth String Quartet, which we also well know in Barshai’s version for string orchestra. Probably being a violinist makes it all wrong, the intrinsic sound of a piano often bringing an unwanted warmth to the music, though I guess pianists may well think differently. Certainly here, and in the excerpt from the Second Quartet, Giltburg’s playing is superb, and his arrangements well considered. The sound engineering in Liverpool is excellent, though it does appear to have been used to help in achieving the quiet passage in the opening movement of the First Concerto. © 2017 David’s Review Corner

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