In order to fully appreciate this release, you need to have another one cued up. Boris Tishchenko continually pushed the boundaries of Soviet music. His compositions, even when they stayed on the right side of the Soviet authorities, sounded like no one else’s.

Listening to this release was my first encounter with Tishchenko’s 8th Symphony. It strongly reminded me of late Shostakovich. Not surprising — Tishchenko studied with him in the 1960s. But it wasn’t until I listened to the work the way Tishchenko intended that I fully understood what the piece was about.

Tishchenko’s 8th Symphony picks up where Schubert’s ends. The themes of the closing movement start Tishchenko’s work, and initially, it continues in Schubert’s harmonic language. But then things begin to change. The music seems to slowly break apart. Harmonies dissolve, motifs become distorted. By the end of the work, the music has completely transformed into something wonderfully unique, and yet closely tied to Schubert’s work.

The other major work on this release is the Concerto for Violin, Piano, and String Orchestra. This 2006 work features shimmering chord clusters and vast sweeping gestures. The violin and piano function more as a duo than two solo instruments. Violinist Chingiz Osmanov and pianist Nikolai Mazhara achieve that effect, performing as if in a conversation between old friends.

Yuri Serov leads the St. Petersburg State Symphony Orchestra in solid performances. Tishchenko’s music can be somewhat quirky, moving from one style to another — sometimes quickly.

I just have one complaint. They really should have included a recording of Schubert’s 8th with this release. Hearing the same orchestra move from one symphony to the other would have been an ideal way to experience Tishchenko’s artistic vision.

Boris Tischenko: Symphony No. 8
Concerto for Violin, Piano, and String Orchestra; Three Songs to Poems of Marina Tsvetayeva 
Mila Shkirtil, mezzo-soprano; Chingiz Osmanov, violin; Nikolai Mazhara, piano
St. Petersburg State Symphony Orchestra; Yuri Serov, conductor 
Naxos 83.573343