Fierce playing captures all the brilliance and brutality of Shostakovich’s music

Marc Coppey: Shostakovich

Marc Coppey: Shostakovich


The Strad Issue: March 2021

Description: Fierce playing captures all the brilliance and brutality of Shostakovich’s music

Musicians: Marc Coppey (cello) Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra/Lawrence Foster

Works: Shostakovich: Cello Concertos nos.1 and 2

Catalogue number: AUDITE 97.777

Marc Coppey brings spectacular virtuosity and electrifying tension to these performances. The opening of the First Concerto grabs you by the collar and trawls you vividly through the bitter eloquence of Shostakovich’s writing. We are on the edge of our seats, the tempo forging ahead with brittle and brilliant orchestral playing. But it’s not only searing intensity. The ensuing Moderato has poignancy and beautifully lyrical playing, before the eerie opening resurfaces in ghostly harmonics. The cadenza is compelling with convincing dynamics and exaggerated paired slurs that are all but trudging. The sizzling finale soon holds centre stage, rhythmic and powerful to the last note.

The Second Concerto is more elusive in character, but Coppey and Foster generate a vivid narrative in this warm recording. They shape the opening melodies with lyricism, conveying pain in the awkward angular intervals. A theatrical gesture characterises the Allegretto opening, like a visitor ominously knocking on the door. A sense of menace is never far from the surface with brutal glissandos savagely tearing through the texture. The finale parodies the military in the horn parts, vividly echoed in the cello cadenza. The irony is deftly defined by Coppey, who makes the biting double-stops and octaves overtly precise. This is an utterly compelling tale told by masterful storytellers.