Jean-Christophe Spinosi: Miroirs
When Jean-Christophe Spinosi backed away from his specialty as a Vivaldi conductor a few years ago, one never envisioned him re emerging with Shostakovich, or that the hair-trigger contrasts that make his Vivaldi thrilling would lend themselves to the abrupt, collage elements of Shostakovich’s Chamber Symphony Op 110a, the centrepiece of this disc. The deeply introspective, low-vibrato performance distinctively conveys a sense of a world flying apart in all directions in a sort of hallucinatory slow motion.
With all of the penetrating recordings of Rudolf Barshai’s transcription of the Eighth String Quartet (written in the aftermath of 1945 and intended as a memorial to himself as well), this recording’s main appeal is the way the piece is sequenced, framed by lamentations from distant places and eras that have a previously unsuspected near-family resemblance.
Barber’s Adagio for strings begins the disc with a high-intensity reading that never capitalises on the music’s potential prettiness. On each side of Shostakovich is the JC Bach aria Ach dass ich Wassers genug hätte, while Nicolas Bacri’s newly composed Lamento uses the same text and generally expands emotionally on the latter piece. The disc’s atmosphere of sombre ritual is underscored by its postlude, ‘Wie jammern mich doch die verkehrten Herzen’ from JS Bach’s Cantata No 170.
Malena Ernman’s somewhat androgynous mezzo-soprano makes three vocal appearances, all of them in a spirit of unbearable sorrow, amid a thoroughly convincing emotional arc, especially for those who can’t get enough of similarly brooding discs, such as Górecki’s Symphony No 3. Personally, I found myself longing for some of Spinosi’s more chipper Vivaldi. Sorry.