Podrugi (The Girlfriends) (1934)/Shostakovich
July 3, 2011
Podrugi is another welcome release of a Shostakovich film score material from a composer who mastered classical and soundtrack compositions. With several volumes being released by Naxos, Chandos, and Delos we’re finally getting a complete collection of his material. We can truly put him in the ‘A’ category in both areas. Podrugi is being offered as complete world premiere recording for the first time on CD or digital download. Prior to this release the only material available was three tracks on a Melodiya LP discontinued years ago. I’m sure this was a labor of love to Mark Fitz-Gerald and staff doing the necessary reconstruction necessary to bring this material to CD.
The story line of the film is a simple one consisting of a friendship between three girls starting at an early age and eventually they end up as nurses on the Russian front during World War I. Directed by Lev Arnshtam a director that Shostakovich had previously done work for on Alone and Golden Mountains and would go on to do four more pictures for him after this one. Shostakovich liked doing works for friends and his relationship with Lev began at an early age when they studied piano together.
The film score consists of quartet material with additional solo material from trumpet, piano, solo voices, organ, harp, timpani, and Theremin. On first listen I must admit to a feeling of the tracks being disjointed and put together in a haphazard fashion. I’ve changed my mind after seeing the film and digesting what Shostakovich had in mind. The “Introduction” is lovely upbeat material that has a subtle gaiety to it. It came from Dmitry’s first string quartet. “The Inn of the Keys to Happiness is a simple giddy theme performed on piano then repeated by the strings back to the piano and then to the strings again with trumpet fanfare adding enhancement. The trumpet fanfare followed, by a theme from the organ with powerful strokes, make for a revolution melody on “The Year 1919, Russian Civil War.” “The Forester’s Hut” for quartet and piano provides a romantic quivering violin for a quiet moment. Track 13 is a banda, an Italian flavored march style piece with the trumpets leading the way with the theme with harmony being provided by tenor tubas. “Natasha and Zoya rescued” is the first of two tracks featuring the orchestra and is an action track though subtle in nature. “Andrei’s Closing Words” is a sad tearful adagio melody that ends on an upbeat note offering hope for the future. “Internationale,” a track that seems somewhat out of place provides a theremin solo during a dangerous time for the girls.
While this is one that will require a certain amount of digesting even from fans of Shostakovich it is well worth the effort and worth investing in. The other three recordings on the CD will be reviewed separately. If you click on the following links I’ve included the Dies irae material (track 12) and the theremin solo (track 14) girlfriends dies irae girlfriends theremin.
Naxos CD# 8.572138
Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra
Mark Fitz-Gerald conductor
Members of the quartet include Piotr Tarchoilk, Kinga Tomaszewska, Beata Raszewska, and Zdzislaw Lapinski.
Solo Theremin performed by Celia Sheen
1… Introduction (opening credits) (3:04)
2… The Year 1914 (2:08)
3… The family waits for the strikers to return (3:38)
4… “The Inn of the Keys to Happiness” (2:26)
5…The children attempt to sing their poppy song (2:56)
6… Tormented by a Lack of Freedom (0:52)
7… Fanfare (0:27)
8… The story of Silych’s son, Ivan (2:16)
9… Tormented by a Lack of Freedom (5:12)
10. The Year 1919, Russian Civil War (1:37)
11. Internationale (2:03)
12. The girls attend to the wounded soldiers on the battlefield (1:47)
13. The town of Pushkin has been taken by the enemy (1:09)
14. Internationale (1:46)
15. Zoya in the snowy forest (1:47)
16. “The Forester’s Hut” (2:51)
17. Fanfare (0:29)
18. Fanfare (0:46)
19. The girls find a chicken (1:56)
20. /Where are those warm nights (1:49)
21. Natasha and Zoya are rescued (1:42)
22. Fanfare (0:40)
23. Andrei’s closing wwords (3:12)
Total time is 46:33