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"Russell Davies, who really feels his Eastern Europeans, contrasts Shostakovich's lament for Dresden and humanity with Yuri Bashmet's sensitive arrangement of Schnittke's elegiac String Trio and introduces us to a powerfully moving piece by Latvian Vasks ­ Musica dolorosa. It's a pre-glasnost work whose tonal dramas linger long in the mind. Benefiting from charismatically brilliant playing, poetic phrasing and spiritiually involving bass resonances, this is an anthology not to be missed."
Alex Orga, BBC Music Magazine

"The lamenting climaxes of the Vasks make an unforgettable impression here, and the link with Shostakovich is even more pertinent in the Schnittke where memories of music of the distant past (Russian chant, Schubert, Mahler) are paraded before the listener like shadows in the night. Throughout the three works, the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra deliver highly charged performances, and the recording balances warmth of tone with admirable clarity of detail."
Erik Levi, Classic CD

"In this stimulating and in some ways disquieting programme, each work stems from very personal ground-springs and shares one sombre musical climate. Shostakovich's Eighth Quartet symbolizes a multilayered tragedy (...) The original has long been hailed as a masterpiece: its structural ingenuity, vivid sense of narrative, brilliant writing for strings and copious self-quotation leave an indelible impression and Rudolf Barshai's orchestration is effective in that the quotations sound even more startling. (...) One wonders whether either Vasks or Schnittke would have developed in the way they did without Shostakovich's inspired example. Schnittke's fattened Trio is cast in two quarter-hour movements and although not polystylistic in any obvious sense, pits traditional cadences against some decidedly modern harmonic and rhythmic ideas. Ives occasionally comes to mind, so ­ rather unexpectedly, perhaps ­ does Philip Glass, whereas the second movement recalls the world of Bartók's Divertimento. (...) All three performances are extremely fine, as is the recording."
Robert Cowan, Gramophone

"Among recent releases from ECM, the stunning label that records the works of Pärt and others, is Dolorosa, a collection of three works by 20th century dissident composers from the former Soviet Union. These works are profoundly moving testaments to the power of the human spirit to resist oppression. Vasks' title cut, and the recording's centrepiece, was written to both express and 'console' the suffering of the Latvian people. Admittedly bleak, at times very dramatic, it is also gorgeous ­ a near-perfect expression from a 'saddened optimist' searching for a way out of the crisis of his time, towards affirmation, towards faith. Music grounded in the mire of real life that can lift the soul toward the transcendent."
Dwight Ozard, Prism

"Speaking as eloquently for our age as the famous laments of Monteverdi and Purcell did for theirs, the works here by Shostakovich, Schnittke and Latvian composer Pe¯teris Vasks are soul-baring expressions of grief, both individual and collective ... Recorded in ECM's signature sepia tones and richly conveyed by conductor Dennis Russell Davies and the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra, the music on this disc is a monument to the gravely beautiful."
Bradley Bambarger, Time Out New York

"Gemütsbewegungen auszulösen, ganz direkt, das liegt dem Dirigenten Dennis Russell Davies. Die drei Streichorchesterwerke, die er mit dem Stuttgarter Kammerorchesterwerke bei ECM veröffentlicht hat, sind entsprechend effektreiche, persönlich gefärbte Krisenmusiken, entstanden in der (damals noch) Sowjetunion. Eckpfeiler sind das achte Streichquartett von Dmitri Schostakowitsch in der vom Komponisten autorisierten, brillant gefertigten Fassung als Kammersinfonie für Streicher von Rudolf Barshai und eine ebenfalls hervorragende Bearbeitung der 'Trio Sonata' von Alfred Schnittke durch einen anderen berühmten Bratscher, Yuri Bashmet. Dazwischen die 'Musica dolorosa' des Letten Pe¯teris Vasks, eine Threnodie, die im Benennen von Emotionen an Eindeutigkeit keine Wünsche offen läßt. Davies versteht es, den Klang seines Orchesters differenziert zu schattieren, eine Form spannungsvoll aufzubauen, und er hält gerade durch die stets sich minim verändernden Färbungen der Musik das Interesse der Zuhörenden wach. Grösstmöglicher Ausdruck wird angestrebt und sehr wohl zwischen persönlicher und allgemeiner Aussage unterschieden. Die mitunter auftretende Larmoyanz stört Davies nicht."
Alfred Zimmerlin, Neue Zürcher Zeitung

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