Shostakovich Film Music Volume 1
March 14, 2010
Part 1 of a series of re-releases originally introduced on the defunct Russian Disc label, Delos offers a 1995 recording of music from the films The Young Guard (1947-48) and Zoya(1944).There will be three additional titles released over the spring and summer of 2010.
Shostakovich composed for 34 films over a period of 40+ years. As he was quick to point out Russian film-making was an industry not art and he was likely involved to put food on the table and pay his bills. Like the propaganda filled movies that he had to score, his scores were watched with scrutiny from Stalin. That being said, the material is far better than many scores you’re likely to hear during that time frame of the 40’s. Shostakovich was a master composer and it even showed in these propaganda pieces.
The material in this recording of The Young Guard (1947/48) comes from the suite that Leon Avtomyan arranged. It includes the best material in the 7 track 30 minute musical excursion but does omit the brooding prelude and the love music. The story is of young soldiers who carry on a reign of sabotage until they are finally captured by the Nazis, executed, and quickly become Russian martyrs of the highest order. “Introduction” is a proud majestic theme, lively in parts, solemn in others, and very Russian sounding. This is the heroic motif for the young guard. “By The River” is in two parts. The first is a slow adagio played very quietly with emotion followed by a bit of tension, a nice underscore. It ends by returning to the Adagio theme. “Scherzo,” while a mere 5 minutes long could easily fit into any symphony as a nice movement. This is a track which can easily stand on its own as a nice separate piece of music. “The Song Of Young Guard Members,” a march giving hope in its message reminds me of pieces I played in band in high school. “Apotheosis,” begins with music to put a tear in your eye and concludes with the theme from the “Introduction.” While I can’t recommend the film, I can give a recommendation to anyone who wants to a hear a traditional classical soundtrack.
Zoya(1944) is a similar tragic tale, this time the story of an 18 year old spy behind the German lines, although there isn’t a known print available. Also arranged for a suite by Leon Avtomyan the majority of the 18 tracks have found there way into this suite. In addition, the first track “Song about Zoya,” includes a biblical choral section which is quite moving and a reminder of Rozsa and Newman. This is one track which definitely could stand on it’s own in a compilation. Also included is a march in “Victory,” a moving somber “Apotheosis,” and a nice allegretto in “Invasion.”
In conclusion this is material that is likely not in your collection but should definitely be explored. Shostakovich was one of the best 20th century composers and any of his material is well worth listening to. Recommended.
Music from the Film The Young Guard, Op. 75 (1947-8)
By the River (4:08)
Turbulent Night (3:35)
The Song of the Young Guard (3:43)
Death of the Heroes (4:52)
Music from the Film Zoya, Op. 64 (1944)
Song About Zoya (8:02)*
Total Time is 61:37
Engineer: Eduard Martens
Delos # is DRD 2001
Walter Mnatsakanov conducts the Byetorussian Radio and TV Symphony Orchestra.
* Minsk Chamber Choir