"International Book of the Year"
Robert Conquest, TLS
"This book settles the issue once and for all. I am sure that no one in his sane mind, having read the evidence presented by the authors, will ever ask the question of whether Testimony is authentic Shostakovich or not. The answer is that it most definitely is."
"'Reply to an Unjust Criticism' sheds valuable new light not only on the authenticity of Shostakovich's memoirs, but also on the efforts of Soviet and some Western sources to mute the truth. Adopting the format of a trial, Ho and Feofanov weigh the evidence and persuasively refute earlier claims that Testimony is inaccurate and a forgery. Their arguments are amply supported, sources are thoroughly documented and text is engagingly written for musician and non-musician alike. What makes 'Reply' unique among Shostakovich studies is that it provides detailed answers to the many criticisms leveled at Testimony and its editor, Solomon Volkov, during the past seventeen years. At the same time, it raises disturbing new questions about the integrity, expertise and motivations of the critics of these memoirs, who, contrary to the evidence, continue to besmirch Shostakovich as 'perhaps Soviet Russia's most loyal musical son'."
Judge Alex Kozinski
"I have read 'Reply to an Unjust Criticism' and find it admirable, convincing and totally solid in its approach and reasoning. It is riveting reading and reveals human nature in the whole span of the worst and the best and how they fit into each other and how in a certain way the one provokes the other and may even be dependent on each other. It is a wonderful guide to Shostakovich's music."
"[Ho and Feofanov's defense of Testimony is] couched deliberately in courtroom terms, cross-examining and painstakingly discrediting objections one by one. This is so thoroughly done it surely puts the onus on Testimony's detractors to return to the stand... [I] will be putting references to Volkov's dishonesty on ice until that happens... By all means read their book and enjoy the frisson of its TV-courtroom-drama-style presentation."
David Fanning, BBC Music Magazine
"The 'Terrible Trio' - namely Fay, Brown and Taruskin (but not necessarily in that order) are about to have the wind taken out of their academic sails, are about to see their respective ivory towers crumble to nought: but above all are about to acquiesce - Volkov wasn't at all a 'liar' and what's more he and Shostakovich did indeed meet more than three times over a glass or two of kvas, and all those unpleasant things about Prokofiev and others might well have come from Dmitri Dmitrievich's own lips... One thing is crystal clear: [Shostakovich Reconsidered] will be one of those 'indispensable' books on your shelf - like Testimony, like Shostakovich: A Life Remembered (by Elizabeth Wilson) and Letters to a Friend (Glikman, in French) and Derek Hulme's Second Catalogue... In this Trial by Jury, only one course of action is possible, Ladies and Gentlemen - read Ho and Feofanov's determined tome, it will add to your perception of the Shostakovich debate and may well lead to a moral, if not a circumstantial acquittal."
Nigel Papworth, DSCH Journal
"Ashkenazy has contributed the introduction to a retaliatory missile by Allan B. Ho and Dmitry Feofanov, titled Shostakovich Reconsidered and published this week by Toccata Press. Bulky but absorbing, this devastating counter-attack exposes levels of academic self-delusion that might be condonable under North Korean water torture but seem a tad contorted in the cathedra of Ivy League colleges and the columns of the New Grove Dictionary."
Norman Lebrecht, The Daily Telegraph
"For 20 years the composer's memoirs, Testimony, have been attacked as fraudulent, and the composer maligned as a man who gave in to Soviet pressure and compromised his art. The present authors wish to defend Shostakovich's reputation, conducting, in an entertaining trial format, a passionate defence of the book. There are also numerous other musicological and cultural essays - a splendid celebration of this sublime musician."
Stephen Poole, The Guardian
"It's very rare to come across a book that's so readable... What it does set up, without much doubt, is Solomon Volkov's essential probity - that he's done what he's done honourably. I think he comes out of this very well all round, I have to say."
Stephen Johnson, BBC
"Shostakovich's suffering is over, and Volkov's suffering is over, but I suspect that Professor Taruskin's suffering is just beginning."
Anthony Briggs, BBC
"Taking all such indicators together [the evidence presented in Shostakovich Reconsidered], I think it is fair to conclude that Testimony is authentic as an expression of the composer's views and should probably also be thought of as verbatim."
John Shand, Tempo
"The book, organised like a court case where the memoirs stand on trial, is extremely easy to read, set in a language that is readily understood by those who are invited to act as jury. The footnotes and cross references are thorough to the point of providing substantial commentary on the side, allowing one to follow the logic of the cross examination and defence. There is extensive rebuttal of the studies of the anti-revisionists that leaves the misleading claims of these scholars bare to ridicule, warranted as they are by such preposterous papers such as Laurel Fay's on Shostakovich's song-cycle From Jewish Folk Poetry. In short it is ruthless, but deservedly so in light of such published scholastic deceptions that revolve around selective representation and deliberate misinterpretation of material, dependency on outdated material and on splitting hairs with Volkov and MacDonald. The climax of this intensive trial and the ultimate test of the strength of this book lies in the treatment of Testimony's biggest riddle: the 8 passages from the memoirs allegedly plagiarised from near-identical sources previously published in the Soviet Union. While at first encounter this evidence looks to be Volkov's undoing, Ho and Feofanov in masterly fashion make a convincing case for the composer's well-documented capacity for self-quotation. Backed by well-rounded in-depth research, it is the centrepiece of an exhaustive defence that will leave little doubt in the readers' minds of the authenticity of Testimony and the portrait within... Shostakovich Reconsidered thus acts like a ray of sunshine through the stormy clouds of these past decades of controversy over who the real Shostakovich was. More than just closing the case on Testimony, as one must after going through the book, it provides the much needed all-round perspective of a composer who was not only a commentator and a critic of his times, but also a sharp and colourful satirist whose outlook on life and music far exceeded what we thought we knew of him."
C. H. Loh (composer, classical music columnist), The Sun, KL (Singapore)
"Is there still someone in Finland suspecting that Solomon Volkov, editor of 'The Memoirs of Dmitri Shostakovich', distorted the words of the composer? Suspicions can now be discarded. Allan Ho and Dmitri Feofanov testify in their new book called Shostakovich Reconsidered, with an immense torrent of facts, that the memoirs are, in all essential parts, discourse which the composer had partly related to people other than Volkov, too... One almost feels sorry for the scholars who mocked Volkov - such as Malcolm Brown, Richard Taruskin, and Laurel Fay. Ho and Feofanov show with direct quotations that these scholars, opponents of Volkov, separated sentences from their factual context when they judged the book to be a forgery. They also show that these scholars do not know or at least have not commented upon the latest research which supports the authenticity of Volkov's book."
Vesa Sirén, Helsingin Sanomat (Finland); tr. Markus Lång
"From the moment the memoirs appeared in the West (they have yet to be published in Russian), they have been violently attacked and vigorously defended, dismissed as a forgery and hailed as a revelation. Now, with the opening of some Soviet archives and the accumulated testimony of those who knew the composer, the debate has reopened with a vengeance, most strikingly with the publication of Shostakovich Reconsidered, by an American musicologist, Allan B. Ho, and an émigré pianist and lawyer, Dmitry Feofanov. The two take up arms against those who have questioned the authenticity of the memoirs, calling Testimony, which has appeared in more than a dozen languages, 'one of the most important and influential books in the history of music.'"
Edward Rothstein, The New York Times
"This intriguing book tackles one of the hottest musico-political controversies of the past 20 years: a web of alleged deceit involving musical masterworks, top-of-the-range academic reputations and cold-war politics. Was Testimony, purportedly the authorised memoir of a great Soviet composer, Dmitri Shostakovich, 'as related to and edited by Solomon Volkov', a fake? ... Some western musicologists accused Mr Volkov of rewriting parts of Testimony from press cuttings, of tricking Shostakovich into signing the first page of each chapter and of getting his wife to put him in the front row at Shostakovich's funeral for a photograph. Most seriously, Shostakovich's political disavowals in Testimony were challenged. Now the author-editors of Shostakovich Reconsidered, a useful collection of essays and documents, have mounted a forensic rebuttal of all these charges against the Volkov book (Dimitry Feofanov is both a musician and a lawyer). Despite the book's relentless courtroom tone, a good case is made out, built on Russian sources."
"... the variety of opinions and styles is one of the things that make this thick volume so readable. In their 300-page defence of Testimony, Ho and Feofanov adopt something close to a courtroom style, which holds the attention to the end, and makes the case for the memoirs seem virtually unassailable... Read Shostakovich Reconsidered by all means; marvel at its breadth of reference, the force of the writing, and ultimately at the power of this music to stir up such intensity of feeling, such aggression."
Stephen Johnson, Times Literary Supplement
"It has taken nearly 20 years of close collaboration for Allan B. Ho, also a musicologist, and Dmitry Feofanov, a music-loving bilingual attorney, to accumulate the formidable wealth of data that jampacks the 787 pages of their new book Shostakovich Reconsidered (Toccata Press, London; with an 'overture' by Vladimir Ashkenazy). They energetically set out to do to Brown, Fay, & Taruskin what a sledge-hammer customarily does to a tent-stake. They conclude by issuing not only Shostakovich but also Solomon Volkov - who has for years suffered in dignified silence - an unconditionally clean bill of political, ethical, and moral health... Rarely have musicologists - ordinarily rather mild-mannered denizens of the groves of Academe - come in for such an all-out demolition job as is delivered by this book."
Paul Moor, American Record Guide
"Shostakovich Reconsidered is a collection of articles, essays and interviews - with the composer's son, Maxim, and Mstislav Rostropovich, among others - compiled, written and edited by Allan B. Ho and Dmitry Feofanov. The main thrust of the book is to prove that Shostakovich did write Testimony in collaboration with Solomon Volkov. There are those who believe the memoir to be a fake, and that the composer was a Soviet stooge. It is clear from his chamber music alone that he was nothing of the sort. There is an impassioned Overture from Vladimir Ashkenazy, condemning the doubters who cannot hear anguish when it is hitting them."
Paul Bailey, The Daily Telegraph
"Other contenders [as probably the most significant strictly classical music book to have surfaced in this country all year] include Shostakovich Reconsidered by Allan B. Ho and Dmitry Feofanov: a polemical book that sets out to prove the validity of the Testimony-line on Shostakovich. In other words it marshals the arguments for Shostakovich not being a Soviet lackey but a secret dissident whose music censures rather than celebrates the regime he was obliged to serve. In doing so it sells a message that most of us have already bought, although the sell is certainly persuasive for any who haven't."
Michael White, The Independent
"Arguments for and against Volkov's authenticity (but overwhelmingly in his favor) have been masterfully assembled in Shostakovich Reconsidered, written and edited by Allan B. Ho and Dmitri Feofanov, encompassing the work of many authorities and published in London by the Toccata Press. This book is essential reading for anyone interested in Shostakovich."
Joseph McLellan, The Washington Post
"This huge uneven book took me months to read, even omitting the professionally musicological parts. But this is only to say that, to some extent, its themes can be taken seriatim. A fine preface by Vladimir Ashkenazy is followed by an exhaustive demolition of the arguments against Solomon Volkov's "Memoirs of Dmitry Shostakovich." A steam hammer to crush a bug, you may say, but much emerges, as it does later, on the particular horror of the composer's experience. Elsewhere, the book pursues the theme of if, and how, the actual music can be interpreted in terms of rebellion. Hard enough, even with literature; but I found the arguments fascinating."
Robert Conquest, The Times Literary Supplement
"Essential, indispensable, profoundly illuminating, magnificent, superbly documented... [Shostakovich Reconsidered] is a very important book. While I personally felt from the moment it was published that Testimony was true to the Shostakovich I already knew through his music, every aspect of the vituperation to which Solomon Volkov's volume has been subjected in the intervening years has been comprehensively and impartially examined and refuted by Allan Ho's and Dmitry Feofanov's impressive new book. Not only has Volkov been completely exonerated as an honest transcriber; but the Shostakovich whom Shostakovich wished us to know comes more vividly alive than ever through these pages."
Christopher Lyndon-Gee, conductor
"Don't be afraid of picking up this book - even if you know little or nothing about the music of Dmitri Shostakovich. It is very informative and does not fall into the trap, so commonplace in similar 'academic' writings, of either patronising the reader, or indeed of blinding him with musicological science. The arguments are clearly presented and well-documented - Shostakovich Reconsidered should prove to be a valuable companion to any music lover's bookshelf."
Jean Mésan, Musique en Suisse
Press comment on Ian MacDonald's The New Shostakovich.