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Das Lied Von Den Waeld Import

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (April 8 2008)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Import
  • ASIN: B000026CDV
  • Other Editions: Audio CD
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xa0716d38) out of 5 stars 2 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9fc83a74) out of 5 stars The Duplicitous Creative Life of Dmitri Shostakovich May 26 2007
By Grady Harp - Published on
Format: Audio CD
Dmitri Shostakovich was a survivor, a gifted composer born in St. Petersburg, Russia in 1906, an artist who attached himself to the freedoms of change of the new music of the 20th century and gained early popularity in his homeland only to suffer the iron fist of Stalin's threat that began the devastation of creative minds in 1936. If Shostakovich were to survive in his homeland he had to make artistic concessions, a feat he was willing to perform to shield his inner development as one of the finest composers of the century once the red/black curtain was lifted.

Nowhere is this dichotomy of artistic expression better demonstrated than on this superb recording of two works - 'nationalistic oratorio and cantata (read 'paeans')' coupled with a suite from his early 1928 controversial and experimental successful opera 'The Nose'. Michail Jurowski conducts the Cologne Radio Orchestra, Chorus , Children's Choir and soloists in two works that are unknown outside of Russia - and for good reason. The opening work is the cantata 'The Sun Shines on Our Motherland', opus 90 from the year 1952. This is a side of Shostakovich unknown to most of us, a very lushly romantic, lyrical, patriotic work fixed in the sonorities of 19th century British choral work sound. Once the listener gets past the rather mundane aspect of the piece the truly beautiful orchestral melding with the choral writing can be admired. But as 'pretty' as the work is it is not related to the Shostakovich we know.

The second work presented here is 'The Song of the Forests', Opus 81 from 1949 and is another grand oratorio proclaiming the glories of Russia - a rather bombastic, lugubrious work that may at one time have thrilled the hearts of Russian patriots, but that now is a merely beautifully composed old-fashioned massive choral work.

The last piece on this well recorded album is the dazzlingly wonderful suite from Shostakovich's first opera, 'The Nose' based on Nikolai Gogol's 1836 satirical tale of a Tsarist civil servant whose nose leaves his face and he departs on a ludicrous search for his missing part. The opera is as creatively inventive and daring as the previously placed choral works are retrogressive. After an overture that introduces all manner of rhythmic and atonal ideas, the suite settles into an aria by the main character Kovalev (well sung by Stanislaw Suleimanow) bemoaning his condition. The following Intermezzo is a dazzling example of Shostakovich's genius - a movement written entirely for the percussion section, oddly minus tympani! The colors he achieves are astounding. A second intermezzo is the composer at his most daring atonal best: the orchestration is wildly inventive, satirical, and rousing. Then comes a brief bit of humor from the besotted Ivan (Vladimir Kazatchouk), the tenor accompanied by a balalaikas and flexatone (an instrument that creates a whistling sound). Kovalev returns for the piece's central monologue, truly beautiful operatic writing with spare but elegant orchestral accompaniment. The suite ends with one of Shostakovich's specialties, a galop. This work is not only a fine opera now enjoying a come back, but also the suite is so richly detailed an account of the young Shostakovich's gifts that it begs to be performed with regularity.

This is a fascinating recording, extremely well performed and produced and one that surveys the spectrum of Dmitri Shostakovich. Highly Recommended for all audiences, but especially for those devoted to Shostakovich's well-known symphonies. Grady Harp, May 07
HASH(0x9fcb1f24) out of 5 stars some beautiful and stirring music here... Sept. 1 2015
By alan12345 - Published on
Format: Audio CD
I thought I read a review somewhere from someone who had grown up with this music and had loved it as a child. I was glad to read this. I feel these pieces have been much maligned (even by Booseys on their website, when they're supposed to be selling the music!) and for political, rather than musical reasons. If they had been written half a century earlier, or had different words, it's surely not unthinkable that they would be standard main-stream repertory items. Admittedly, Shostakovich wasn't at all happy having to write in 'required', late 19th century style and with massive, 'glorious' endings. But given that he did so, he did of course do it far better than anyone else. And what's more, there's not a trace of irony in the music; he needed a Stalin prize to help feed himself and his family, so he kept it straight. And in response to a friend's derogatory comment about the words just before the first performance, he said, "I take responsibility for the music; as for the words - well - " And why not take responsibility for the music? Such a beautiful opening section to "The Sun Shines"; such a lovely, spirited opening on the trumpets to "The Young Pioneers"; and what about the simple lyricism of "Walk into the Future" for tenor and unaccompanied chorus? Even those gigantic codas are carefully managed, orchestral tessitura and colouring controlled and timed, as the standard, clichéd modulations do their job.

Admittedly, "The Sun Shines" becomes a little cheesy as it continues. "Song of the Forests" on the other hand keeps its quality throughout. Shostakovich was concerned that basing the last movement on a fugue might be too 'intellectual' to suit the demands of the regime; but not only does this provide the substance needed at the end of the work, it also contrives to have a very 'basic' theme that nevertheless keeps its interest by alternating 4/4 and 3 /4 time. There have been composers who have come adrift attempting to write great 'glorious' choral fugues as demanded by custom - and I am thinking of Mozart and Schubert! Shostakovich succeeds with ease where these two, in my opinion, failed.

These are marvellous, "no-holds-barred" performances, the orchestra and balcony brass giving massive full sound without a trace of harshness. The baritone is as 'Russian' as one could wish, while the full-throated tenor is perfectly balanced by the engineers who, by the way, must have relished the challenge of coping with so much stunning sound. The children's chorus is fresh, uplifting and perfectly in tune, while the main chorus, which seems perhaps to have some useful help from some operatic voices, sings with such nationalist pride it's hard not to be carried away. Indeed, both the gentle opening of "The Sun Shines" and the massive ending of "Song of the Forests" have had me on the edge of tears.

Speaking of tears, there is a story that after the first performance of "Song of the Forests", Shostakovich went to his hotel room, threw himself on the bed and sobbed bitterly into the pillow. He must have detested the brief homage to Stalin in the words, and indeed the way the whole enterprise gave his implicit support to the regime. To hear what Shostakovich was really thinking and feeling at the time of these choral works, go to the 1st Violin Concerto, a very different kettle of fish. (But not Oistrakh with Mitropoulos - the orchestra is recorded as if from two rooms away. Try Mordkovitch.) All the same, as we slowly move away from that historical period, and even recognise that planting forests in the wake of the devastation of the war is not so ignoble a subject, these pieces may be due for a revival. Well, not a revival, since they are largely unknown in the west - so, an arousal of interest.

The album adds music from the early opera, "The Nose", quirky and sardonic, so it's possible to hear just how far from his natural bent Shostakovich had had to travel by the late '40s and early '50s.

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