Shostakovich Film Music Volume 3

November 8, 2010

This new selection from Delos (DRD 2003) is the fourth in a series of recordings originally released on the defunct Russian Label (1995) of film music of Dmitri Shostakovich recorded by the Byelorussian Radio and TV Symphony with Walter Mnatsakanov conducting. This compilation of 5 films covers nearly 40 years of film composing/conducting.

The Great Citizen, (Op.52/55) was the story of Kirov, leader of the Communist organization in Leningrad, who was assassinated, becoming one of the martyrs of the revolution. Fans of the funeral march style will fall in love with this extremely patriotic elegiac Russian track from 1938/39. The melody is allowed in this 8+ minute piece. The work begins with a trumpet fanfare followed by the introduction of the main theme from the violins that yield after setting the stage to the lower register of the orchestra including a touching solo on the bassoon.

Viborg District, (Op. 50) is a somewhat upbeat nationalistic march with excellent balance between strings, brass, and percussion. This is a work that is the soul of Russian music and could have been used in any number of propaganda films or anything about the Soviets.

The Man with a Gun, (Op.53) is a five part 10 minute suite that begins with a smooth statement from the trombone section that reminded me of my college playing days.  It is followed by a stoic anthem” similar to the “Viborg District” theme, yet another Shostakovich tune produced under difficult scrutiny from Stalin.

Passer-By, (Op. 33) is a three part selection which begins with an upbeat flute, harp, and xylophone in a country setting. The third part is a “Song About a Passer-By” from the flute which went on to become the official anthem of the United Nations in 1945.

Sofia Perovskaya, (Op.132), released in 1968, was one of the last works written by Shostakovich and certainly his maturity showed through with a well developed score. This score is filled with satire and also the melancholy side rises to the surface in tracks such as “Voronezh” and the very next track “Andante,” written for a small string ensemble with the cello leading the way in a solemn heartfelt solo. On the opposite end of the spectrum is the duet of the flute and snare drum in “March” and “Execution,” a mocking example of satire from the pen of Dmitri. When was the last time you heard a duet from those instruments before? Also included in the soundtrack are a series of very short cues, underscore material for tension, drama, and other appropriate “wallpaper filler.” Of the five films included on this CD this is the one that includes most of the soundtrack.

Like the other three offerings in this series this is an opportunity to listen to material seldom performed. If you wish to explore the film music of Shostakovich further I encourage you to also seek out the three volumes that Chandos has put out in their film series. Volume one is Chandos 10023, Volume Two is 10183, and Volume Three is 10361. Recommended

Delos # DRD2003

Track Listing:

1…. Viborg District, Op. 50 (1:49)

The Man With A Gun, Op. 53

2…. Overture (1:36)

3…. October (3:33)

4…. Smoiny (2:07)

5…. IIIa Smoiny

6…. Finale (1:07)

The Great Citizen, Op. 52/55

7…. Funeral March (8:34)

Passer-By, Op. 33

8…. I (2:55)

9…. II (3:31)

10..III (2:28)

Sofia Perovskaya, Op. 132

11..March (1:10)

12..Execution (1:31)

13..I Allegro (2:48)

14..III Allegretto (1:27)

15..Valse (2:17)

16..IV Moderato (1:19)

17..V Duel (1:45)

18..VII (Village) (4:12)

19..VIII Voronezh (:31)

20..IX Andante (4:42)

21..X Allegro (:47)

22..XI Allegro (6:47)

23..XII Moderato (:43)

24.. XIII Dream (:42)

25..XIV Allegro (1:32)

26..XV Adagio (2:45)

Total Time: 64:59




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