Title: Completish Edition
Year Of Release: 2012-2013
Label: Brilliant Classics
Total Time: 98:59:18
Total Size: 23,7 Gb
WebSite: Album Preview
This 84 CD set is the culmination of many years work in collecting in order to put together as full a set as possible of Shostakovich's work. In short, it's basically one of every recorded piece written by Shostakovich. I go into much greater detail below, but that's what your getting. The beginning of my preface follows which introduces the set, but the included text file goes into deeper detail as to my selections. For information as to each artist, you'll have to check the cue files, but I discuss many of them in the text file. Also included is an Audiochecker log which details a few cases where the sources probably aren't lossless. Everything else is though. Track listing for each CD is at the end.
There can never be a true complete recorded edition of Shostakovich's works. Most of his compositions have survived and been recorded, but there are still a fair amount of scores that have been lost or were destroyed by the composer himself. Not that any of these were all that important, but there are pieces he wrote that will never be heard by anyone. In addition, he has enough small and/or disavowed works that recording certain works have not made the CD era, and his belated restoration to copyright increases the costs of performing his works ad infinitum, while earning the composer who actually wrote those pieces exactly zero rubles. Despite this setback, previously unknown manuscripts are being discovered and performed, and a new (but probably not final given the errors and omissions) collection of his scores is bringing to light a large amount of his unpublished work.
The purpose of the Shostakovich Completish Edition is to mirror similar "complete works" sets like the Mozart, Beethoven, Bach and other classical giants very much in the public domain. Prolific as he was, Shostakovich didn't write quite as much as those three guys, but a recorded collection of his works would still take up quite a bit more CDs than say Berg or Webern. As stated above, it is impossible to make a truly complete set, but my goal was to come as close as possible given what has been recorded up through 2013. The rules I set out were that every single recording had to be of CD quality (either sourced from the CD or a lossless encode, but certainly no .mp3s), and that every piece selected, unless otherwise completely impossible, should be from a "modern" recording (here roughly meaning nothing earlier than the 1970s). Unfortunately, this means the composer's own recordings had to be excluded for the most part (as he didn't really record anything after the 1950s), as did the usually excellent but often shitty-sounding recordings by his chosen conductor Mravinsky. Fortunately there are enough good recordings out there to compensate, but I felt it was more important to produce a modern set as opposed to an authoritative yet crackly-sounding one. And given the state of the composer's recordings and reputation before and after his death, the juxtaposition of very old and very new recordings would not be conducive to producing a cohesive set.
Rather than concentrating on a laundry list of "classic" recordings or a collection of previously released CDs that may have repeats of works, the Completish Edition gathers together one version of every piece by Shostakovich that has been recorded on CD. Thus his symphonies and string quartets are given equal weight with his relatively unknown film music, and as such a (mostly) complete picture of his output can be formed. However, this does not just include original works by Shostakovich, as orchestration was a large part of his output as well. Thus separate sections are included for his orchestrations of others' works, and for the orchestration of his songs and string quartets by other hands. Regarding the film music, some of the music only exists in the suites assembled by Lev Atovmyan, and the ballet suites he assembled are also popular enough that excluding them would not be wise. As stated above, this may not be "complete" regarding what Shostakovich actually wrote, but is the best that can be done for now.
With everything taken together, the set consists of 84 CDs which last almost 99 hours in duration. They are divided into seven sets which group rough genres together. The "odd" order in which they are arranged corresponds both to the Collected Works and New Collected Works arrangement, which places the symphonies first before any stage works, finds the string quartets closer to the end than their importance would suggest, and ends with his orchestrations.
The first 17 CDs consist of Shostakovich's orchestral works, which includes his symphonies, miscellaneous orchestral pieces, concerti, and suites to the ballets and operas. CDs 18-32 are Shostakovich's stage works, which are his complete operas and ballets (meaning not excerpted), and a CD of his unfinished opera fragments. CDs 33-42 deal with his songs both in orchestral and piano varieties. Shostakovich orchestrated a number of his song cycles, but didn't live long enough to do more, so that portion is filled out with a few by other composers to give a fuller picture. This section also includes his works for chorus both alone and with orchestra. CDs 43-51 are Shostakovich's chamber music, which includes his string quartets, sonatas, piano trios and quintet, and a few other miscellaneous works for smaller ensembles. CDs 52-59 consist of the keyboard works, meaning the works for both one or two pianos along with a CD of music arranged for organ. CDs 60-73 contain Shostakovich's music for films and plays, which exist in either complete or fragmentary form depending on what's survived and been recorded. And finally, CDs 74-84 have the orchestrations by Shostakovich of others and by others of Shostakovich. This includes his instrumentations of the Mussorgsky operas Boris Godunov and Khovanshchina (sadly, the Boris is not the impossible to find one complete version from the late '60s), the Barshai "chamber symphonies" arrangements of the string quartets for sting orchestra, and the arrangement of the violin and viola sonatas with orchestral accompaniment.
The exact lineup of this set changed many times over the years I've pondered it, but I was mostly successful in keeping pieces of the same genre together and presented chronologically, while keeping to the limit of 80 minutes per CD. Yes, I realize the digital age means there's little point to following this limit when storage space and iPods are making CDs unnecessary, but I wanted this to be a set you could actually create physically rather than be a folder with tracks where you won't want to listen to most of them. It may be frustrating to find the CDs presented in image+.cue format as opposed to tracks, but it was really easier for me to do it this way so that I could control track lengths and gaps and add silence as need be. Every CD file is encoded in FLAC level 8 from lossless sources, and the cue files list the track names, piece titles, and performers.
While it probably won't replace your favorite recording of any given piece, the set is designed to be the one Shostakovich collection you'll ever need, hopefully gathering either the best or only recordings into one place for the first time. Some small works are rather difficult to track down, but now that is no longer the case. Of course, as more new Shostakovich recordings continue to be made, this set will have to be considered fluid and may not reach a final version for a rather long time. Hopefully I can just amend new CDs on as need be while keeping what has already been assembled intact. For now, this is as completish as Shostakovich can get, and I hope the collection will help open up the full world of one of the 20th century's best composers.
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