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  Capriccio -
  71 087/88 (2 discs)
  Shostakovich: Piano Works - Babinsky, Busch
  Shostakovich: Piano Sonatas Nos. 1 & 2, 24 Preludes Op. 34, Concertino Op. 94, Fröhlicher March in D major, Waltz from "The Song of the Great Rivers" Op. 95, Polka, Tarantella, Suite for Two Pianos Op. 6

Margarete Babinsky (piano)
Holger Busch (piano)
Track listing:
  Classical - Instrumental
Recording type:
Recording info:

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Reviews: 1

Review by Beagle July 5, 2006 (8 of 8 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
In this Year of our Dmitri, 2006, we are up to our ears in multiple editions of his symphonies. They are indeed rippingly great cinematic adventures (and sit well on the shelf next to those of Mahler). But they are the public Shostakovich, overly-conscious of his role in soviet history and Stalin’s Moscow. I have a personal soft-spot for the private man, the backroom habitué who drank with disreputable (but very good) musicians, whose wink-wink, nudge-nudge quartets read like a stolen diary.

Shostakovich was first and last a pianist, and his works for that instrument tend to be in the first person, singular. It is a personal voice which ranges from borderline imbecilic in the jazz suites, out to the 20th century’s very own ‘Transcendental Études’, the 24 Preludes. So two discs of piano works are a significant event in a significant year (note: this issue is dressed in the same Capriccio livery as the Kitayenko symphonic set). The pieces include major works for solo piano, two pianos, and piano 4-hands – powerful resources, so this is emphatically not candlelight and wine music. Some of the duos are showpieces papa Shostakovich wrote for son Maxim and himself. I find the piano/pianos firmly present in the room with me, but not so present that I feel I am under the lid. Powerful stuff, nonetheless.

The major works here are the Piano Sonatas nos. 1 & 2, and the 24 Preludes, and with one exception, they are excellently rendered. For comparison I synched my old favourite, Vladimir Viardo on a 1989 E’Nonesuch CD. Amazingly, the old redbook isn’t far off the notch, sonically! Viardo plays with a smoothness which makes his quicker tempi sound more relaxed, and Babinsky/Busch play with a dynamism which makes their slower tempi feel faster.

But I have one small quibble. Shostakovich has a distinctive meter all his own, lilting and teasing. Babinsky has annoyed me in the opening piece, Sonata no. 2, by laying on a rubbato which makes the rhythm not merely drunken, but disconnected, and the music falls apart in her hands (but then she and Busch go on through the other works very charmingly). The pianistic talent here is immense – I just don’t like how that talent has chosen to impose itself on the first piece.

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Works: 9  

Dmitri Shostakovich - 24 Preludes Op. 34
Dmitri Shostakovich - Concertino Op. 94
Dmitri Shostakovich - Fröhlicher March in D major
Dmitri Shostakovich - Piano Sonata No. 1
Dmitri Shostakovich - Piano Sonata No. 2
Dmitri Shostakovich - Polka
Dmitri Shostakovich - Suite for Two Pianos Op. 6
Dmitri Shostakovich - Tarantella
Dmitri Shostakovich - Waltz from "The Song of the Great Rivers" Op. 95