Shostakovich: The Bolt

COMPOSERS: Shostakovich
LABELS: Bel Air Classiques
ALBUM TITLE: Shostakovich
WORKS: The Bolt
PERFORMER: Anastasia Yatsenko, Andrei Merkuriev, Denis Savin, Morikhiro Iwata; Bolshoi Ballet; Orchestra of the State Theatre Bolshoi/Pavel Sorokin; chor. Alexei Ratmansky (Moscow, 2006)
CATALOGUE NO: BAC 020 (NTSC system; dts 5.1; 16:9 picture format)
Shostakovich centenary year saw new Russian choreographies for all three of his ill-starred ballets. Bolshoi live?wire Ratmansky set himself some problems by following up the straightforward Bright Stream with the quirkier ballet plundered for the sequel. His solution was to jettison most of the numbers appearing in both contexts, shedding nearly an hour’s worth of Bolt, and leaving of its ‘book’ only the central theme of a factory malcontent jamming a bolt in the Soviet machinery.


Sergey Radlov, the brains behind a more literary full-length ballet, Romeo and Juliet,/i>, remarked that the plot of Bolt made Raymonda or Coppelia look like Shakespeare. That’s still the case; and even with three Acts reduced to two, it remains too long. Yet Bolt was important as the last cry of the 1920s avant-garde before socialist realism stole its quirky thunder, and Ratmansky’s attitude to Soviet constructivism is remarkably playful and never heavy-handed. Within Pastukh’s high-tech sets, the dancers blend acrobatics and classical steps with a panache worthy of the original choreographer, Fyodor Lopukhov. The four excellent leads provide much-needed focus until a final dream-ballet divertissement, hailed by lurid Bolshoi trumpeters, culminates in a riot of PVC Red Army costumes and scooters. Ratmansky comes across well in the long accompanying interviews, and it’s moving to hear the widow of the original ‘librettist’ eloquently reciting the catalogue of woes that followed his casual arrest in 1946. First-rate filming and sound are further enriched by riveting archive footage in the short film that provides the other extra. Ratmansky’s Bright Stream next, please. David Nice