Shostakovich: Works Unveiled / Nicolas Stavy

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This release is the fruit of the French pianist Nicolas Stavy’s efforts to uncover unknown works by Dmitri Shostakovich. Spanning some fifty years of the composer’s career, these rarities include early piano pieces influenced by Chopin and the fragment of an unfinished violin sonata, but is bookended by arrangements of symphonic music, by Shostakovich himself and by Mahler, a constant influence.

The album opens with the most substantial work on the disc, Shostakovich’s arrangement of his late, great Fourteenth Symphony (1969) for soprano, bass, string orchestra and percussion. With texts by poets including Guillaume Apollinaire, Federico García Lorca and Rainer Maria Rilke, the work evokes death, reaching great emotional depths. Rather than ‘just’ making a piano transcription for rehearsal purposes, Shostakovich included a percussion part as well as one for celesta, in order to reproduce sounds that would be impossible to imitate on the piano alone. This is followed by the substantial fragment of a sonata for violin and piano dated 1945 and four short piano pieces composed around 1917-1919, which reveal a very young composer and demonstrate his surprising individuality and maturity. The final work on the disc is an arrangement of the opening 95 bars of Gustav Mahler's Tenth Symphony which Shostakovich probably made during the 1920s for personal study purposes and to demonstrate the work to his fellow members in one of Leningrad’s two Mahler Societies. In Shostakovich’s transcription for piano four hands, Stavy is joined by Cédric Tiberghien.


Nicolas Stavy’s painstaking trawl through the Shostakovich Archives has brought together some completely unknown works from the composer’s vast output with a major masterpiece recorded for the first time in a completely different guise. Admittedly, not everything here is of the highest quality. For instance, the earliest music, a collection of four short piano pieces composed during Shostakovich’s teenage years, is fluent but largely derivative.

Yet the rest of the album has much to offer. From the 1920s, we get a deftly scored arrangement of the first 95 bars to the Adagio of Mahler’s Tenth Symphony for piano duet, which is beautifully performed by Stavy and Cédric Tiberghien. Another tantalisingly brief fragment is the large-scale opening section of an unfinished Violin Sonata dating from 1945 which is given a powerfully committed performance by Stavy and Sueye Park.

However, the most substantial discovery is undoubtedly the composer’s reduction for piano and percussion of the orchestral score to his 14th Symphony. Whether or not Shostakovich conceived this arrangement as a viable performing alternative to the original, rather than a useful vehicle for helping the vocal soloists learn their parts, its intimate scoring works particularly effectively in the more reflective settings such as the opening ‘De profundis’, ‘O Delvig, Delvig!’ and ‘The Poet’s Death’. Elsewhere, despite Stavy’s phenomenal mastery of the enormously tricky piano writing, I miss some of the cut and thrust of Shostakovich’s pungent string writing, especially in the frenzied musical argument of ‘Loreley’ and in the furious outburst of anger unleashed at the end of ‘The Zaporozhian Cossacks’ Answer to the Sultan of Constantinople’.

-- BBC Music Magazine

Product Description:

  • Release Date: January 06, 2023

  • Catalog Number: BIS-2550

  • UPC: 7318599925509

  • Label: BIS

  • Number of Discs: 1

  • Period: 20th Century

  • Composer: Dmitri Shostakovich

  • Performer: Nicolas Stavy, Ekaterina Bakanova, Alexandros Stavrakakis, Florent Jodelet, Sueye Park, Cedric Tiberghien


  1. Symphony No. 14 [Composer's Arrangement for Vocal Soloists, Piano & Percussion]

    Composer: Dmitri Shostakovich

    Performer: Ekaterin Bakanova (Soprano), Alexandros Stavrakakis (Bass), Nicolas Stavy (Piano, Celesta), Florent Jodelet (Percussion)

  2. Sonata for Violin and Piano (unfinished)

    Composer: Dmitri Shostakovich

    Performer: Sueye Park (Violin), Nicolas Stavy (Piano)

  3. Four Pieces

    Composer: Dmitri Shostakovich

    Performer: Nicolas Stavy (Piano)

  4. Symphony No. 10 in F-Sharp Major: II. Andante (fragment)

    Composer: Gustav Mahler (arr. Dmitri Shostakovich)

    Conductor: Nicolas Stavy (Piano), Cédric Tiberghien (Piano)