Shostakovich and Mayflower reviews
NORMAN STINCHCOMBE REVIEWS 20TH-CENTURY SHOSTAKOVICH AND 17TH-CENTURY PILGRIM FATHERS' MUSIC
SHOSTAKOVICH: Ibramigova / State Academic Symphony Orchestra of Russia / Jurowski (Hyperion CDA68313) ★★★★★
Shostakovich's first violin concerto was premiered in 1955 by David Oistrakh who prepared a performing edition which differs from Shostakovich's autograph manuscript. Originally the bridge from Passacaglia to finale was to be played solo but Oistrakh asked for a respite and Shostakovich re-scored it for orchestra. Alina Ibragimova plays the original version here which allows, says the booklet notes, to hear "the concerto as originally conceived". Not quite. Ibragimova and conductor Vladimir Jurowski ignore Shostakovich's faster original metronome markings, which Frank Peter Zimmermann and Alan Gilbert observed in their 2016 recording. Zimmerman's timings for the Nocturne and Passacaglia are 9.07 and 11.05 – Ibragimova's are 12.36 and 15.02 so the latter is really a "traditional" performance. On those terms it's a very fine one, Ibragimova playing with a winning combination of passion, power and poetry as she also does in the slighter 1967 second concerto, with trenchant orchestral support under Jurowski.
MUSIC FOR THE MAYFLOWER: Passamezzo (Resonus Classics RES10263) ★★★★
In 1620 the "Mayflower" sailed from England with 102 passengers seeking their fortune in the New World. There's a record of the books they took with them, including music books. What songs might passengers have sung to while away the long voyage? Early music group Passamezzo – founded by Renaissance violin and viol player Tamsin Lewis – take up the challenge. Forty passengers were Pilgrims, Protestant dissenters, so there are settings of five Psalms and the Lord's Prayer but there's popular fare too. Up merry mates finds John Dowland less doleful than usual, and Thomas Weelkes' Come Sirrah Jack ho is a catchy sing-along to which one can imagine the ale flowing, and pipes being lit too if Tobias Hulme's Tobacco is Like Love is indicative. Passamezzo's playing and singing is vibrant, characterful and immediate, probably helped by the group's experience of theatrical and dramatic performance, making for a highly enjoyable hour.