Thursday, 1 March 2018

CD Review (The Straits Times, March 2018)

Violin Sonata Op.134 / 24 Preludes Op.34
Naxos 8.573753 / ****1/2

The young Russian violinist Sergei Dogadin, 1st prize winner of the recently-concluded Singapore International Violin Competition 2018, had already made several recordings before his Singapore triumph. Just issued is this 2016 recording of violin music from the great Soviet era Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975).

Shostakovich wrote only one violin sonata, a late work from 1968 when he was in ill health. Opening with the darkest of moods that was typical in his old age, it closes with a passacaglia of unremitting bleakness. In between is a savage scherzo of lacerating abrasiveness that does little to lighten the ambience. 

Dogadin and compatriot pianist Nikolai Tokarev are faithful advocates and are excellent in execution. They, however, but do not quite match the intensity in the definitive Melodiya recording by its dedicatee David Oistrakh with Sviatoslav Richter on piano. 

On the other extreme of the spectrum are violin transcriptions of Shostakovich’s youthful 24 Preludes Op.34 (1932-33) for piano which are short, varied, and often laced with sardonic humour. 

Violinist Dmitri Tsyganov, a member of the Beethoven Quartet, had transcribed 19 of these, leaving the set tantalisingly incomplete. It was left for contemporary Russian composer Lera Auerbach to fill in the blanks. Dogadin and Tokarev capture well the music's schizophrenic shifts and multifarious nuances in rather enjoyable performances. 

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