Orchestral Suites/Shebalin

February 16, 2013



Did you know that Shostakovich dedicated his 2nd String Quartet to Vissarion Shebalin? I hadn’t heard of the man until I received a recent release from Toccata Classics through their USA distributor Naxos of America. Founded in 2007 by Martin Anderson, the business plan of the company was releasing obscure, neglected, and material for the first time. Such was the case with Shebalin’s two orchestral suites as neither had been available on CD.


Born in Omsk Siberia Shebalin (1902-1963) became a student of Gliere, Myaskovsky, and Shostakovich. Having read the liner notes prior to my first listen, with the background Vissarion had I knew I was going to like this material and I wasn’t disappointed.


ORCHESTRAL SUITE NO. 1 (1934-1936) revised in 1962



1… “Funeral March” A fanfare from the brass with snare drums leads to a funeral march, very somber, with heroic statements from the brass, a somber beginning to a dance/theater suite.

2… “Dance” is an upbeat somewhat jazzy cue with distinct staccato and a saxophone leading the way in the arrangement somewhat in the same vein that Shostakovich might do. Definitely the overall theme is one for the theater.

3… The Slow Waltz features a slithering clarinet which integrates itself with the orchestra which offers string work, solo violin in a harmonic sound not unlike Prokofiev and Shostakovich. I found that my best listen was through the headphones as the dynamic range on this cue was quite a little bit lower and I had to strain to hear the material over my normal ambient noise in my listening environment.

4… “Dance” returns to the jazzy style with sliding trombone, clarinet, flute, and the return of the saxophone once again.

5… Song begins with a mourning oboe which builds to a tutti and returns to the oboe still mourning but with strings offering a harmonic contrast.

6… “Waltz” is an upbeat one giving the listener gaiety and a feeling of better days. A very richly orchestrated movement that features the entire symphony it ends with another full tutti and concludes in rousing fashion.


1… “Waltz” begins in grand ballroom style with a melody from the string section which harmony from the brass which complements the thematic material.

2… “Tarantella” is a lively dance with a fast tempo. It swirls with bold statements from the brass and a very persuasive percussion line.

3… “Slow Waltz” starts with a lonely bassoon and the melody is taken over by the reed section in a very slow tempo. A solo violin makes a statement which the clarinet becomes a part of.

4… “Bolero” adds a bit of Spanish flavor with strong percussion to the different dance styles that Shebalin wrote for this theater type suite.

5… “Romantic Waltz” is similar in style and tempo to the slow waltz with an emphasis being placed on the string section

6… “Potpourri” is a combination of different styles and tempos ranging from circus music to quiet passages. There is an interesting trumpet fanfare at the end of the track.


7… “Romance without Words is a lovely melody featuring bassoon and clarinet to begin with followed by sweet serene strings.

8… ”Galop” is a wonderful way to end the suite with a lively almost frantic at some points with the entire orchestra participating.

If you’re like me and willing to experiment a bit Shebalin, who might be new to you, is a nice blend of several different styles of dances and tempos.


1… Funeral March (5:18)

2… Dance (4:28)

3… Slow Waltz (5:07)

4… Dance (3:36)

5… Song (6:04)

6… Waltz (6:27)


7… Waltz (3:50)

8… Tarantella (3:07)

9… Slow Waltz (3:34)

10… Bolero (2:00)

11. Romantic Waltz (3:40)

12. Romance Without Words (7:35)

13. Galop (4:59)


Total Time is 62:19