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Shostakovich: Lady Macbeth Of Mtsensk / Westbroek

Shostakovich / Westbroek / Ventris
Release Date: 01/30/2007 
Label:  Opus Arte   Catalog #: 965  
Composer:  Dmitri Shostakovich
Performer:  Vladimir VaneevLani PoulsonEva-Maria WestbroekL'udovit Ludha,   ... 
Conductor:  Mariss Jansons
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Concertgebouw OrchestraNetherlands Opera Chorus
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 3 Hours 56 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Picture format: NTSC 16:9 Anamorphic (widescreen)
Sound format: DTS Surround / LPCM Stereo
Region code: 0 (All Regions)
Languages: English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Dutch
Running time: 236 minutes


This is a spectacularly successful issue. With one of the finest orchestras in the world conducted by an eminent Shostakovich conductor, supported by superb soloists and a very tasteful stage setting, Opus Arte cannot go wrong.

Initially, on reading the booklet, I must admit to being slightly suspicious about the production, but visually it works exceedingly well. The Director, Martin Kusej has chosen a stark angular metal and glass set which remains on
Read more stage throughout. It becomes a very important part of the drama, conveying the suggestion of a prison cell, a subterranean dungeon as well as a room, and a closed cell.

Where the production scores very highly is in the performance given by the principal soprano, Eva-Maria Westbroek who not only sings her part superbly, also acts it out with wonderful conviction. Her physical appearance is also spot-on, and one can understand watching her portrayal of the sex-starved frustrated young woman faced with an absent husband and the presence of a new, highly attractive suitor how Shostakovich’s portrayal of the female mind can be highly believable. Scantily clad, but in no way pornographic, her portrayal of the heroine is absolutely superb, and one can believe how the suitor, Sergei could have been mesmerised by such a wonderful creature.

The other characters are equally fine, with the husband and suitor both playing their parts as to the manner born. Shostakovich’s writing for the human voice in this work is not particularly lyrical, as the story requires. There is evidence of occasional poor pitching from all soloists as the drama continues, but the passions and emotions raised by the composer are superbly realised, and I would far rather put up with the occasional wrong note, than a flat, tone-perfect performance. In case this may sound at all negative, it is not intended to be: the soloists and chorus are all superb.

If anyone saw the ROHCG performance recently on BBC4 also recorded, like this performance, live, you may be assured, good though that was, the present performance I would rate even higher.

The magnificent Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra directed by their conductor-in-chief, Mariss Jansons, play with both power and delicacy, and their presence in the pit is a constant delight. You can see from the conductor’s face during the entr’actes how much pleasure he is getting from the work. This permeates the whole performance.

This set will be on many Christmas lists I am sure, and recipients will feel very fortunate in their present. It is a superb contribution to the Shostakovich Centenary celebrations.

-- John Phillips, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk district, Op. 29 by Dmitri Shostakovich
Performer:  Vladimir Vaneev (Bass), Lani Poulson (Mezzo Soprano), Eva-Maria Westbroek (Soprano),
L'udovit Ludha (Tenor), Christopher Ventris (Tenor), Carole Wilson (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Mariss Jansons
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra,  Netherlands Opera Chorus
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1930-1932; USSR 
Date of Recording: 6/2006 
Venue:  Het Muziektheater, Amsterdam 

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