Must-Have Piano Concertos in SACD

Must-Have Piano Concertos in SACD

Shostakovich/Shchedrin: Piano Concertos in SACD

In the November 2006 issue of The Absolute Sound, Jonathan Valin and Mark Lehman list "100 More Best-of-the-Century Classical Compositions." Because it is the 100th anniversary of Shostokovich's birth, I went looking for a recording of one of the recommended Shostakovich compositions, the first (1933) and second (1957) piano concertos.

Valin and Lehman's recommended Bernstein recording wasn't available, and anyway I was hopeful that there was an SACD multichannel recording on the market.There is, and I'm here to tell you it is fabulous: recorded by Hyperion (SACDA67425), with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Andrew Litton conducting with Marc-Andre Hamelin at the piano.

Shostokovich wrote this stuff late enough that it sounds somewhat "modern" and that may trouble some of you. But, if that stops you, you'll be missing some of the most pyrotechnic yet musical piano I've every heard. Hamelin makes a million notes per second sound natural, sort of like a few early '90s garage bands could make massive distortion beautiful. And this recording of piano deserves five gold stars. If for no other reason, you need this recording because the left hand is clear and dynamic unlike so many recordings of piano in the concerto format.

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