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  Caro Mitis -
  CM 0082004
  Shostakovich: Preludes & Ballet Suite - Hermitage Chamber Orchestra
  Shostakovich: Ten Preludes Op. 34 (arranged for oboe and strings), Prelude and Fugue in C minor Op. 87 (arranged for oboe, cello and piano), Prelude and Fugue in B major Op. 87 (arranged for oboe, cello and piano), Ballet Suite for Flute, Oboe, Strings and Percussion

Alexei Utkin (oboe)
Mikhail Utkin (cello)
Maria Chepurina (flute)
Hermitage Chamber Orchestra
Track listing:
  Classical - Chamber
Recording type:
Recording info:

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Reviews: 2

Site review by mwagner1962 November 4, 2006
Performance:   Sonics:  
This is the year that the musical world celebrates the 100th birthday of Shostakovich. Possibly one of the 20th century’s most important (and considered by some to be the most important composer of the 20th century) there has been a flood of new recordings (both on redbook as well as SACD) of the music of Shostakovich.

While Caro Mitis and their two killer ensembles (Pratum Integrum and Hermitage Chamber Orchestra) have been regaling us with stunning offering of well known composers like Bach and Mozart, we have also been treated to some excellent unknowns like Wölfl and Rebel. This SACD (along with the Britten recording) is a somewhat different offering, though not one lick less enjoyable.

All of the composition are arrangements of other pieces, from the Elegy in f sharp minor (a reworking of a soprano’s aria from his opera Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk District) to the 10 Preludes, Op. 34 originally a set of piano composed consecutively in all 24 key signatures. The two Prelude and Fugues Op. 87 (in c minor and B Major) are later compositions from a set of pieces written in 1950 (the bicentenary of J.S. Bach’s death) modeled after Bach’s own Das Wohltemperierte Klavier or The Well Tempered Clavier). The final composition, arranged with the help of Mikhail Utkin, is a suite. The Ballet Suite for Flute, Oboe, Strings and Percussion is a compilation of selections from ballets composed by Shostakovich (The Limpid Stream, The Bolt and The Golden Age).

Those of you used to the various available recordings of the ballet suites should find Mikhail Utkin’s arrangements of the ballet suite positively enjoyable. While the Hermitage Orchestra does not employ the massive brass forces of a “normal” orchestra, one will hopefully not miss the larger textures, as what this recording gives us here is an intimate listen to some truly excellent music. VERY enjoyable indeed.

Regarding the sound….now, it is time for your humble reviewer to sound like a broken record. As with every other Caro Mitis SACD, I find the sound to be totally stunning in every aspect. I simply cannot say more, except that I am totally blown away by this label. In fact, I have a suspicion that if Caro Mitis ever releases a bad SACD, then every tree on earth will wither and die

I give this recording my highest recommendation, but I beg Caro Mitis to continue to give us more Bach, Mozart, Tietz, Telemann, etc!!

**** as with all my reviews of Caro Mitis, feel free to e-mail me if you live in North America and would like to know how to order these amazing recordings.

Review by Jonalogic July 14, 2010 (3 of 3 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
Great sound but a mixed bag, says I.

Caro Mitis SACDs were new to me, but this recording suggests they are well worth pursuing further. This is a beautiful recording, technically. It uses custom Polyhymnia hardware and recording technologies to great effect. The resulting sound is clear, transparent and utterly convincing.

This recording is full of great but diverse music from the great Soviet master, and is sensitively played. So, what's the catch? Well, I see two:

1) The transcriptions. These work fine on the chamber and instrumental works (good to have anything from the great 24 preludes and fugue in particular- WHEN ARE WE GOING TO SEE THESE ON SACD, I wonder?). However, the bulk of this recording is devoted to a collage of ballet suites, which I feel really loses a dimension without Shostakovich's pungent, vivid and sarcastic orchestration. Sorry, these just don't work for me. I really want the bleating, blaring and raspberry-blowing. This is an integral part of what this early Shostakovich - and particularly 'the Bolt' is all about.

2) I like oboes as much as the next guy (that reminds me of a classic Peter Cook/Dudley Moore sketch, but let's not go there, shall we...?), but too much of anything in one sitting can cause indigestion or boredom. At the end of this, one is screaming for some brass and heavy percussion to cleanse the musical palate.

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Works: 5  

Dmitri Shostakovich - 24 Preludes and Fugues, Op. 87
Dmitri Shostakovich - 24 Preludes Op. 34
Dmitri Shostakovich - Elegy in F sharp minor
Dmitri Shostakovich - The Age of Gold (ballet suite), Op. 22a
Dmitri Shostakovich - The Limpid Stream (ballet suite), Op. 39a