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Shostakovich Film Series, Vol. 5

Shostakovich / State Cinematographic So
Release Date: 03/29/2011 
Label:  Delos   Catalog #: 2005   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Dmitri Shostakovich
Conductor:  Walter Mnatsakanov
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Belorussian State Radio/TV Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews



SHOSTAKOVICH Film Music: Golden Hills 1. The Silly Little Mouse 2. Adventures of Korzinkina. The Tale of the Priest and His Worker Balda Walter Mnatsakanov, cond; 1 St Cinematographic O; Byelorussian RTV SO; 2 Yevgenia Kazantseva ( Mouse ); Leslia Liut ( Read more class="ARIAL12i">Cat ); Nina Tishina ( Duck ); Sergei Scapov ( Horse ); Oleg Gordinets ( Pig ); Mikhail Druzhina ( Toad, Dog ); Antinina Ivanova ( Narrator ) DELOS 2005 (62:45 Text and Translation)


This reissue of Volume 5 in conductor/archivist Walter Mnatsakanov’s 1990s Shostakovich Film Series contains the usual mixture of uneven music (lows and highs), more-than-competent performances, and some discographical confusion or outright errors—along with, in this case, one oddity that serves as saving grace. Let’s deal with the latter first. In 1939, Shostakovich began his second collaboration with filmmaker Mikhail Tsekhanovsky (the first was The Tale of the Priest ), an animated children’s film called The Silly Little Mouse , based on a poem by Samuil Marshak. In the poem, Mama Mouse tries to get her youngster to sleep by soliciting lullabies from a duck, horse, pig, toad, and even a voiceless fish, finally settling on a cat, which naturally has an ulterior motive. Marshak has the baby mouse devoured by the cat, but Shostakovich supplied a happy ending by having a dog come to the rescue. Keeping in mind that this mini-opera was intended for children, the music has its moments of charm and amusement—specifically, the characterization of the various animals, with very brief interludes of some instrumental urgency as the cat stalks its prey and the confrontation between cat and dog. Unlike the recording by Riccardo Chailly (Decca), which substitutes various instruments for the voices, we have the original vocal version here (with text included), and nicely done it is. However, the booklet notes perpetuate a fallacy, calling this the world premiere recording and crediting Mnatsakanov with having “located the materials while exploring the archives of the State Cinema Orchestra.” According to John Riley (author of Dmitri Shostakovich: A Life in Film , published by Tauris & Co.) in the DSCH Journal , Boris Tiles “edited the score from surviving parts in 1979,” and recorded it for Melodiya that year, though it was apparently not released until 1982—something that not even Royal S. Brown was aware of at the time of his Fanfare (22: 6) review of the previous 1999 release of Mnatsakanov’s program on the Citadel label (Boheme Music reissued Tiles’s version on CD in 2003; Barry Brenesal reviewed it in Fanfare 27:1). For the sake of completeness, it should be added that a third vocal version now exists, featuring Vladimir Ponkin conducting the Orchestra of the Republican Guard at a live concert in Paris in 2002 (Mandala); however, though sung in Russian, that one is narrated in French.


As for the suites from the three other films represented here, each displays Shostakovich’s 1930s penchant for alternating between bombast and quirkiness, including harmonically sweet-and-sour melodies and unexpected instrumental colors—such as the Hawaiian guitar in the Waltz and the impressive, idiomatically apt organ-and-orchestra Fugue from Golden Hills ; the tenor saxophone “Dream” in The Tale of the Priest ; and the two-piano Keystone Kops chase sequence, no doubt reminiscent of Shostakovich’s own experience as a silent film accompanist, from the otherwise unexceptional Adventures of Korzinkina . By the way, Mnatsakanov offers only seven of the original 15 movements the composer arranged for his op. 36 suite from The Tale of the Priest and His Worker Balda ; there is a greatly expanded and “edited” version conducted by Thomas Sanderling on DG (see my review in Fanfare 30: 3 for some clarification about the complicated history of this score).


Meanwhile, Delos further muddies the water by miscrediting the orchestras on this release—as Royal S. Brown confirmed in his review, the State Cinematographic Orchestra is heard in just the Golden Hills suite—and allowing the pastiched booklet notes to state unequivocally that the score for Golden Hills “was his [Shostakovich’s] first for a sound film,” when Alone , completed a few months earlier, though originally filmed without sound, did feature, in John Riley’s words, a “kaleidoscopic soundtrack—a clever mélange of music, sound effects and speech—[making] it one of the most innovative early sound films.” Nevertheless, none of these details affect the music contained herein. If you’re a Shostakovich film aficionado or are curious about The Silly Little Mouse , you’ll want to hear this.


FANFARE: Art Lange
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Works on This Recording

1.
Golden Hills: Suite, Op 30a by Dmitri Shostakovich
Conductor:  Walter Mnatsakanov
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Belorussian State Radio/TV Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1931; USSR 
2.
Tale of the priest and his servant Balda, Op. 36 by Dmitri Shostakovich
Conductor:  Walter Mnatsakanov
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Belorussian State Radio/TV Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1936; USSR 
3.
Adventures of Korzinkina, Op. 59: Suite by Dmitri Shostakovich
Conductor:  Walter Mnatsakanov
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Belorussian State Radio/TV Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1940; USSR 
4.
The Story of a Silly Little Mouse, Op. 56 by Dmitri Shostakovich
Conductor:  Walter Mnatsakanov
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Belorussian State Radio/TV Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1939; USSR 

Sound Samples

Zlatiye gori (Golden mountains) Suite, Op. 30a: I. Introduction: Moderato
Zlatiye gori (Golden mountains) Suite, Op. 30a: II. Waltz: Andante
Zlatiye gori (Golden mountains) Suite, Op. 30a: III. Fugue: Largo - Allegro
Zlatiye gori (Golden mountains) Suite, Op. 30a: IV. Intermezzo: Andante
Zlatiye gori (Golden mountains) Suite, Op. 30a: V. Funeral March: Largo
Zlatiye gori (Golden mountains) Suite, Op. 30a: VI. Finale: Largo
The Tale of the Priest and his Servant Balda Suite, Op. 36: I. Ouverture
The Tale of the Priest and his Servant Balda Suite, Op. 36: II. Aufmarsch der Finsterlinge (The Procession of the Obscurantist)
The Tale of the Priest and his Servant Balda Suite, Op. 36: III. Carousel
The Tale of the Priest and his Servant Balda Suite, Op. 36: IV. Scene at the Bazaar
The Tale of the Priest and his Servant Balda Suite, Op. 36: V. Balda's Dialogue
The Tale of the Priest and his Servant Balda Suite, Op. 36: VI. The Priest's Daughter's Dream
The Tale of the Priest and his Servant Balda Suite, Op. 36: VII. Finale
The Adventures of Korzinkina, Op. 59: I. Overture
The Adventures of Korzinkina, Op. 59: II. March
The Adventures of Korzinkina, Op. 59: III. The Chase
The Adventures of Korzinkina, Op. 59: IV. Music at the restaurant
The Adventures of Korzinkina, Op. 59: V. Finale: [Yanya]
Glupiy mishonok (The Silly Little Mouse), Op. 56

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