Shostakovich: Suite on Verses of Michelangelo Buonarroti; Four Verses of Captain Lebyadkin

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COMPOSERS: Shostakovich
LABELS: Decca
WORKS: Suite on Verses of Michelangelo Buonarroti; Four Verses of Captain Lebyadkin
PERFORMER: Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (baritone), Vladimir Ashkenazy (piano)Berlin RSO/Vladimir Ashkenazy
CATALOGUE NO: 433 319-2 DDD
What a phenomenon Fischer-Dieskau remains, at 68! In scrupulous Russian, always conveying not merely the sounds but the full force of poetic sentiment, he delivers one of Shostakovich’s vocal masterpieces, the setting of a Russian translation of 11 Michelangelo sonnets, and adds to it four parodic, Mussorgsky-like songs on texts originally given to a character in Dostoevsky’s novel The Possessed. The Michelangelo songs gain greatly in being performed not in the original voice and piano form but in the composer’s own richly varied orchestration — with massive percussion where the sculptor’s hammer is evoked. The Lebyadkin settings, unpublished until almost a decade after the composer’s death in 1975, come with piano accompaniment. Both works were designed for bass rather than baritone, and a few of the lowest notes in the Michelangelo settings emerge slightly fuzzy. But these are nevertheless outstanding performances, the voice thrilling, the accompaniments sharply illuminating, and the whole finely recorded. Text is provided, but not the date of recording — and surely more music could have been added to make up this disc to a reasonable length. Arthur Jacobs

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