fri 07/08/2020

Farewell, Rudolf Barshai (1924-2010) | reviews, news & interviews

Farewell, Rudolf Barshai (1924-2010)

Farewell, Rudolf Barshai (1924-2010)

Rudolf Barshai: Shostakovich interpreter supreme and a musicians' musician

"Who?" many readers may be asking. You'll have to take it on trust - and a handful of outstanding recordings - that the Russian conductor, viola player and arranger, who died on 2 November aged 86, really was up there among the musical greats of his generation. He played with Rostropovich, Richter and David Oistrakh; he had as close a line to Shostakovich as any recreative artist. But he was no globetrotter following his emigration from the Soviet Union to Israel in 1976, and, as yet another of those "musicians' musicians", he rarely stepped into the limelight.


Barhsai's completion of Mahler's tenth symphony is a very interesting take on the work, and the flute passage near the beginning of the last movement is played, on his own recording, with staggering beauty and tenderness. It is a great shame that he was not a more frequent visitor to this country – I would have very much liked to have heard him conduct Mahler and Shostakovich in concert.

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