Shostakovich: Orchestral Songs, Vol. 1: From Jewish Folk Poetry; Two Fables of Krylov; Three Romances on Poems by Pushkin; Six Romances on Verses by Raleigh, Burns and Shakespeare

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COMPOSERS: Shostakovich
LABELS: DG
WORKS: Orchestral Songs, Vol. 1: From Jewish Folk Poetry; Two Fables of Krylov; Three Romances on Poems by Pushkin; Six Romances on Verses by Raleigh, Burns and Shakespeare
PERFORMER: Larissa Dyadkova (mezzo-soprano) Sergei Leiferkus (bass) Luba Orgonasova (soprano)Nathalie Stutzmann (contralto) Philip Langridge (tenor) Women’s Voices of the Gothenburg Opera, Gothenburg SO/Neeme Järvi
CATALOGUE NO: 439 860-2 DDD
Take a quiet hour, follow the English text provided, and absorb these highly dedicated performances. Then, if you once thought Shostakovich’s realm was only that of the symphony and the string quartet, you will surely change your mind. These songs plumb his deepest emotional regions and display his most subtle orchestral palette – though only the Two Fables of Krylov are orchestral originals. The accompaniments to texts by Pushkin and to translations of Raleigh, Burns and Shakespeare were originally for piano, as was the cycle for three voices, From Jewish Folk Poetry.

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The latter still seems to me more convincing in its original form, but the orchestra in the others has a masterly eloquence, often with chamber-musical use of individual instruments. The song texts translated from English/Scots include a charming ‘Coming thro’ the rye’ (‘At evening among the rye’ in the Russian version). Nathalie Stutzmann is an unreliable contralto but Orgonasova, Dyadkova, Langridge and Leiferkus – this time cast as bass rather than his usual baritone – could not be bettered. In this clear, excellently balanced recording Järvi’s affinity for Russian music is again revealed. Arthur Jacobs