Shostakovich: Alone (excerpts), The Counterplan (excerpts), The Great Citizen Part II (excerpts); Romance from The Gadfly

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COMPOSERS: Shostakovich
WORKS: Alone (excerpts), The Counterplan (excerpts), The Great Citizen Part II (excerpts); Romance from The Gadfly
PERFORMER: Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra/ Riccardo Chailly
CATALOGUE NO: 460 792-2
It was Shostakovich’s nightly work as a tubercular ‘picture palace’ pianist in Leningrad towards the end of the silent era, repetitively hacking mood music and ‘human passion’ improvisations, that got him hooked on the cinema. He was obsessed with the moving image: ‘Writing… film scores kept my musical reflexes alert and my craftsmanship lithe and adroit.’ In recent years Capriccio’s well-documented collection of his soundtracks (he composed nearly 40 between 1928 and 1970) has revealed the breadth of his preoccupation; there’s also material available on Cala, Chandos and Naxos. Chailly’s new release offers 26 delectable numbers drawn from Alone (1931), The Counterplan (1932), The Great Citizen Part II (1939 – an emotionally epic Funeral March later to resurface in the Eleventh Symphony), The Tale of the Silly Little Mouse (1939, in a persuasive arrangement by Andrew Cornall sanctioned by the Shostakovich estate), Pirogov (1947), The Gadfly (1955 – the inevitable Romance, here notably intimate), Hamlet (1963-4), and Sofia Perovskaya (1967 – an unforgettably coloured Waltz). Deprived of visual association, the effectiveness of such music can only be guessed. Its self-contained inevitability, though, its brilliantly orchestrated kaleidoscope of rich Romanticism and tart 20th-century irony, isn’t in doubt. There are some real gems here. With Chailly and his band in responsively inspired harmony, gloriously recorded, this is unmissable. Ates Orga