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Russian Masters - Rachmaninoff Paganini Rhapsody
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8 Feb 2011
Conductor: Larry Rachleff
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Shostakovich: Symphony no 11 in G minor, Op. 103 "The Year 1905" N/A
Conductor: Larry Rachleff
Recording Date: Sat 5 Feb 2011
I - The Palace Square: Adagio (14:54) N/A
II - The Ninth of January: Allegro (18:44) N/A
III - In memoriam: Adagio (12:51) N/A
IV - The Tocsin: Allegro non troppo - Allegro (14:39) N/A
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kcleffer
kcleffer 9:19 AM - 10 Feb 2011 | Applause: 0
It’s hard to know the place in the human spirit from which Shostakovitch wrote this piece. This is not the music of entertainment. This is a message, a warning, a dark foreboding, which must be said, and the composer is not too concerned with whether the listener enjoys the message or not. How else could he break all conventional rules of engaging the listener, the long stretches of musical stillness, the seemingly endless repetitions, the pages and pages of what can only be described as barbaric grunts – strings instruments essentially taking on the role of percussion instruments. This is not the music of Mozart. This is not designed to please and delight.

No better choice could have been made than Rachmaninoff’s Variations on a Theme of Paganini to start the program. We come away delighted with the work’s fit and finish, its humor, it’s compositional ingenuity, and the dazzling display of soloist and orchestra technical prowess. But Shostakovich’s 11th is not like that. Beauty of sound is not the main concern here. In many places playing B flat rather than B natural, or D sharp rather than D flat would do little to disrupt the rage that is to be heard, would only add to the effectiveness of the message!

It’s hard to know as an American the place of rage in the human spirit from which Shostakovitch’s 11th emanates. But as recent events in the Middle East illustrate, 106 years after the events which inspired Shostakovitch’s 11th, the desire to speak or gather freely is still often answered with bloodshed and violence.

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davidhthomas
davidhthomas 1:23 PM - 9 Feb 2011 | Applause: 0
Few live performances of the Rachmaninov Paganini variations are as together between soloist and orchestra as this one. Kirill Gerstein is not only gifted musically and technically, but also a real chamber musician. Rather than making the performance about only his part, he listened and followed us as much as we followed him.

And conductor Larry Rachleff knew how to keep the orchestra from lagging. The combination is a darn good example of how this piece can really shine. Enjoy.

And the Shostakovich 11th symphony performance by the orchestra, under the brilliant and focused guidance of Maestro Rachleff, rivaled the best.

The shear scope of the work, over an hour long, has the potential to bog down in its own weight. But Rachleff kept the righteous vigor in the fast parts and allowed the long phrases of slower sections to develop without wallowing.
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