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Rudolf Barshai’s influence as a conductor of Russian music is hard to overstate. Combining an inexhaustible work ethic with a commitment to perfecting every detail of a performance, he broke new ground with his studied interpretations.
His recordings – particularly of Russian music – were some of the 20th century’s most successful, met with both critical acclaim and widespread popularity; this collection celebrates his achievements, bringing together the best of Russian music from the 19th and 20th centuries. At the heart of the collection are Barshai’s own arrangements of music by Shostakovich and Prokofiev – his orchestrations of Shostakovich’s 10th String Quartet (heard here as the Chamber Symphony Op.118a) and Prokofiev’s Visions fugitives, originally for piano, display a deep and intuitive understanding of orchestral balance and colour. Also included are Shostakovich’s inventive Symphony No.14 and movements from his intricate Op.87 cycle of Preludes and Fugues, as well as Weinberg’s Second Sinfonietta, written specifically for Barshai, and Lokshin’s mysterious Symphony No.7.
Barshai is heard here conducting the orchestra that he established – the Moscow Chamber Orchestra, which Shostakovich described as ‘the greatest chamber orchestra in the world’. Also featuring performances by Galina Vishnevskaya and Mark Reshetin, this 3-disc collection presents first-class recordings and performances in a set of impressive value.
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