WORKS: Moscow-Cheryomushki Suite; The Bolt Suite; The Gadfly (excerpts)
PERFORMER: Erez Ofer (violin); Philadelphia Orchestra/Riccardo Chailly
CATALOGUE NO: 452 597-2
Since any music can be danced to – even Mahler symphonies, in choreographer John Neumeier’s opinion – Decca may be able to justify its concept of a Shostakovich ‘Dance Album’ to follow up the ‘Jazz Album’. Still, there’s no denying that eight of the 23 tracks are hardly dance numbers. What matters is that the programme gives us a triangular view of Shostakovich the popular composer: doing his own thing with unpredictable variations on a ballet subject (The Bolt), coming up with a respectable Russian answer to Salad Days (Cheryomushki) and obliging with pre-John Williams screen heroics (The Gadfly).
The original, full-orchestral dance numbers from Cheryomushki may seem tame compared to Gerard McBurney’s exuberant pit-band version (BBC Music Magazine’s cover disc in April 1995), but Chailly finds more than enough naturally recorded colour and dynamic detail and this may in any case be as much of the piece as many listeners can bear. He plays down the raucousness of The Bolt’s Introduction, perhaps, because his orchestral trumpets can’t quite blister, and plays up the sophistication whenever rich Philadelphia strings can help him out. The so-called Romance from The Gadfly, which Decca may intend to promote as a hit track, has a welcome reprise at the cultured hands of leader Erez Ofer. David Nice