Shebalin: Orchestral Music, Volume 1
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Vissarion Shebalin: Orchestral Music, Volume One

Catalogue Number: TOCC0136
EAN: 5060113441362
Release Date: 29 October 2012
Duration: 62:19

Orchestral Suite No. 1, Op. 18
Orchestral Suite No. 2, Op. 22

Siberian Symphony Orchestra, orchestra
Dmitry Vasilyev, conductor

Like his close friend and colleague Dmitry Shostakovich, Vissarion Shebalin (1902–63) knew a life of both celebrity and hardship: he was another of the composers condemned in the infamous 1948 Party congress in Moscow, and in later life he fought to overcome a series of crippling strokes. But his personality remained undaunted, as his music resolutely proves. This is the first recording of his First Suite for Orchestra and the first appearance on CD of the Second, both of them prepared from theatre music, and showing the lighter side of Shebalin’s symphonic music. They have been recorded by the orchestra of his home town, Omsk, the capital of Siberia.

Booklet texts   (PDF)

Track Listing, MP3 Downloads and Streaming Samples

Track No. Track Title / Details Duration Sample Add to Cart
1-6 Orchestral Suite No. 1, Op. 18 (1934–36)

Vissarion Shebalin, composer
Siberian Symphony Orchestra, orchestra
Dmitry Vasilyev, conductor

(first recording)
1 No. 1 Funeral March 5:18 play
2 No. 2 Dance 4:28 play
3 No. 3 Slow Waltz 5:07 play
4 No. 4 Dance 3:36 play
5 No. 5 Song 6:04 play
6 No. 6 Waltz 6:27 play
7-14 Orchestral Suite No. 2, Op. 22 (1962)

Vissarion Shebalin, composer
Siberian Symphony Orchestra, orchestra
Dmitry Vasilyev, conductor

(first digital recording)
7 No. 1 Waltz 3:50 play
8 No. 2 Tarantella 3:07 play
9 No. 3 Slow Waltz 3:34 play
10 No. 4 Bolero 2:00 play
11 No. 5 Romantic Waltz 3:40 play
12 No. 6 Potpourri 2:34 play
13 No. 7 Romance without Words 7:35 play
14 No. 8 Galop 4:59 play


Vissarion Shebalin

Vissarion Shebalin, composer

Siberian Symphony Orchestra

Siberian Symphony Orchestra, orchestra

Dmitry Vasilyev

Dmitry Vasilyev, conductor


Excellent issue

...Although Shebalin was a friend of Shostakovich one detects little of his influence. The writing feels rather more comparable to the sound-worlds of a previous generation: namely Glazunov, Myaskovsky and Gliere whose music Shebalin would have known intimately.

...The two orchestral suites make little demand on the listener’s concentration yet are immediately engaging. After the first couple of plays I found the First Orchestra Suite, Op. 18 the more compelling of the two. It has some really engaging and memorable melodies with an abundance of contrasting colours and textures.

...The orchestra rewards its artistic director and chief conductor Dmitry Vasiliev with alert playing of vitality and substantial expressive character. Impeccably prepared by Vasiliev the unison of the orchestra is evident. Unquestionably this is a marvellous orchestra...

...Enjoyable from the first to last these examples of Shebalin’s music deserve increased exposure and with a recording as splendid as this from the Siberian Symphony Orchestra it could hardly receive finer advocacy.

Michael Cookson MusicWeb International September 2014

...Containing six and eight movements respectively, the two suites resemble Shostakovich’s music for theater orchestra and for the cinema. There is a funeral march, a tarantella, bolero, gallop, romance, a couple of pieces simply marked “dance”, and several waltzes.

...Dmitry Vasiliev leads his players with conviction and admirable directness.

David Hurwitz Classics Today 2014

The Lighter Side Of Vissarion Shebalin

Except perhaps for dedicated Russophiles, composer most likely be a welcome new discovery. He was a student of Nikolay Myaskovsky, highly respected by Prokofiev and a close friend of Shostakovich. And like each of those composers, Shebalin was formally condemned by Soviet officials at the 1948 Party Congress in Moscow, a decree that forced the composer from his directorship of the Moscow Conservatory.

Shebalin was prolific in every genre, including incidental music for the theater, from which he extracted the two orchestral suites on this album. They are presented here in their revised 1962 versions for the first time on CD and represent the lighter side of Shebalin’s music.

Originally dating from 1934, Shebalin’s Orchestral Suite No. 1 is derived from two plays produced by the renowned Russian director Vsevolod Meyerhold, who met a grisly fate at the hands of Stalin’s security goons. The first three of its six sections include a halting funeral march, a 1920s-sounding dance and a slow waltz featuring an unctuous clarinet and violin.

The jazzy atmosphere of the dance returns in the middle of the fourth number (click above to listen). An aria with piquant oboe solos follows. The suite concludes with a more conventional-sounding waltz, which builds to a flamboyant climax reminiscent of Ravel’s La valse, with its Viennese twists and turns.

The second suite is distilled from music for Meyerhold’s 1935 production of Alexandre Dumas the younger’s The Lady of the Camellias, which also inspired Verdi’s La traviata. The first of its eight selections is a lush waltz, bringing to mind those in Prokofiev’s ballets.

The mood then becomes more Latin for the next three. These include a spirited castanet-accented tarantella, a slow waltz with an oily bass clarinet and a bolero recalling Ravel’s famed piece, as well as his Mother Goose.

A romantic waltz follows, and then comes a whimsical ‘potpourri,’ beginning with a chortling bassoon reminiscent of the ‘Dance of the Cygnets’ in Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake.

The penultimate Romance without words’ is a mellifluous song, after which the suite ends with a cheeky cancan galop concluding, as it were, in the middle of Offenbach’s Paris.

Conductor Dmitry Vasiliev leads the Siberian Symphony Orchestra (from Shebalin’s hometown of Omsk) with performances that bubble with energy in the animated numbers, but are sensitive and passionate in the introspective ones.

Bob McQuiston Classical Lost and Found 15th January 2013

A sense of theater

On the basis of the recording by the Siberian Symphony Orchestra under Dmitry Vasiliev – the first this work has ever received – Shebalin had as sure a sense of theater as did Shostakovich himself. This suite and its successor are both collections of theatrical pieces, the six-movement Suite No. 1 starting with a suitably mournful funeral march and containing two waltzes (one designated ‘Slow Waltz’). This is, of course, not symphonically organized music, so it lacks a certain degree of cohesiveness, but it is very effective in conveying theatrically superficial emotion, and the orchestration, which includes some highly chromatic writing for clarinet and saxophone, is particularly fine. Suite No. 1 dates to 1934 and No. 2 to a year later, but Shebalin revisited and revised both works as late as 1962. Suite No. 2, in eight movements, is based on Shebalin’s incidental music for La Dame aux camélias, better known as the inspiration for Verdi’s La Traviata. Shebalin starts the suite with a waltz and includes two additional ones (one marked ‘Slow’ and one labeled ‘Romantic’). The music has a more-international flavor than might be expected from the French story: Italian and Spanish elements (a Tarantella and Bolero) give it considerable character. Like Suite No. 1, this is a disconnected work rather than a closely integrated one, but also like the first suite, it shows considerable skill in orchestration and close attention to theatrical effectiveness. This is the first volume of Shebalin’s music from Toccata Classics, and it certainly whets the appetite for more.

The Infodad Team 12th December 2012


1 comment – add a comment

Would there be a follow-up of this great composer?

If so can you preview any of the music that will come up on Volume 2?


Pablo Iglesias email 6 March 2013