Shostakovich: The Bolt Suite; Jazz Suite No. 1; Jazz Suite No. 2; Tahiti Trot

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COMPOSERS: Shostakovich
LABELS: Naxos
WORKS: The Bolt Suite; Jazz Suite No. 1; Jazz Suite No. 2; Tahiti Trot
PERFORMER: Russian State SO/Dmitry Yablonsky
CATALOGUE NO: 8.555949
Bring on the performing dogs! The Bolt may be a ballet about industrial espionage, but Shostakovich’s music is an irresistible reminder of Russia’s circus tradition. It’s more distinguished than most music from the big top, but still conjures up the sight of clowns with ridiculously large shoes falling over each other. There’s the Bureaucrat with a silly piccolo solo, the equally ludicrous xylophone of the Conciliator, and although the serious Shostakovich pokes his head above the wall for an instant in the Dance of the Colonial Slave-Girl, most of the music is good-natured fun. The Jazz Suites continue in much the same vein – there’s not much jazz in them, but their polkas, waltzes, galops and other dances are top-notch light music. Imagine Johann Strauss and Offenbach dragged into the 20th century, with a pinch of Prokofiev, and overlaid with Shostakovich’s own melancholy, and you’ll not be far off: the shorter first suite even makes a nod in the direction of Weill in its final foxtrot. Shostakovich wrote the Tahiti Trot (an arrangement of ‘Tea for Two’) in 40 minutes for a bet, and it outstays its welcome, but the rest of the disc is a delight, with tight, infectiously witty performances. Martin Cotton

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