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Film Music Classics: Mark Fitz-Gerald conducts Shostakovich’s The Gadfly

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5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

Film Music Classics: Shostakovich
Ovod (The Gadfly); The Counterplan – excerpts
Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz/Mark Fitz-Gerald
Naxos 8.573747

Having recorded vibrant accounts of meticulously restored film scores by Shostakovich, such as New Babylon and Alone, Mark Fitz-Gerald now reaches one of the most familiar by that composer. Usually recorded in the form of Lev Atovmian’s 12-movement suite, The Gadfly (1955), illustrating a romanticised story set during Italy’s Risorgimento, is here restored to the more subtle and varied colours of Shostakovich’s original orchestration. One can hear more clearly the contrasts between the music of the bourgeoisie (the ‘Galop’, stripped of Atovmian’s gaudy xylophone, sounds most effective played by strings only), the church (including the ‘Dona nobis pacem’ from Bach’s Mass in B minor – which replaced Shostakovich’s original ‘Ave maria’ cue also included in the CD), and of the people (‘Bazar’, named ‘National Holiday’ in Atovmian’s suite). Several diegetic cues, such as the brief ‘Folk Dance: Tarantella’ for mandolin, flute and clapping, enhance the score’s Italian flavour. Just as revealing, too, is having the cues in their intended sequence and in their original form: the lyrical ‘Youth’ and the melodramatic ‘A Slap in the Face’ are more effective heard as discrete pieces rather than awkwardly bolted together as in Atovmian’s arrangement, ‘Romance’.

The programme is rounded out with excerpts from The Counterplan, which includes one of Shostakovich’s greatest Soviet hits.

Daniel Jaffé