- Piano Concerto No. 1
- Chamber Symphony in F major, Op. 73a (arr by Barshai from String Quartet No. 3)
- Concerto for piano, string orchestra and timpani
This fascinating disc is something more specific than its title implies: The program offers a snapshot -- confined to the single year of 1946 -- of Shostakovich and some of his students, and it's as potent a history lesson as it is a musical experience. Shostakovich's own music is represented by the Chamber Symphony in F Major -- a transcription of the Third String Quartet by Rudolf Barshai. It works well in this arrangement, partly because Shostakovich imagined the original quartet version of this extroverted music on a nearly symphonic scale. Since Shostakovich was already an established master in 1946, it's no wonder that German Galynin's Piano Concerto No. 1 borrows some tricks from his teacher. What is surprising is how well it holds up in comparison to the piano concertos of both Shostakovich and Prokofiev; this is a witty, lively work with an earnest emotional core, and soloist Serhiy Salov's performance leaves no doubt that it would be a real crowd-pleaser in concert. As the first recording of Galynin's concerto to be released in the West, its arrival is most welcome. Although it wasn't publicly performed until 1969, Galina Ustvolskaya's Piano Concerto is less of an unknown quantity than Galynin's, having received several recordings as this composer's post-Cold War renown has grown. If Galynin's music resembles Shostakovich's sardonic side, Ustvolskaya digs deeper into the underlying pain, requiring the soloist (Salov once again) to penetrate into darker emotions as well. The highest praise is due to I Musici de Montréal, a chamber orchestra that plays here with a rich sound that belies its small numbers. As a model of smart programming and brilliant performance, this album is strongly recommended.