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Shostakovch: Execution Of Stepan Razin; Zoya Suite / Ashkenazy, Helsinki Phiharmonic

Shostakovich / Shenyang / State Choir Latvija
Release Date: 08/27/2013 
Label:  Ondine   Catalog #:  1225-2  
Composer:  Dmitri Shostakovich
Conductor:  Vladimir Ashkenazy
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Helsinki Philharmonic OrchestraLatvian State Choir
Number of Discs: 1 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Shostakovich’s cantata The Execution of Stepan Razin is a moving and exciting late work audibly related to the Thirteenth Symphony, “Babi Yar”. Both use texts by Yevtushenko, and yet the cantata never has enjoyed the same degree of popularity and critical regard. The reason may be that it’s too long to serve as a coupling with the symphony, and Shostakovich never wrote anything else like it. His previous Socialist Realist choral works, like The Song of the Forests, are too obviously ideological in content, but Razin would make a terrific piece coupled to, say, Prokofiev’s Alexander Nevsky.

In any case, Vladimir Ashkenazy has chosen a different route and assembled a very smart program. Zoya is a wartime film that tells the
Read more story of a young girl who dies fighting the Germans. The suite has five substantial movements, one of which, the battle scene, bears a striking thematic resemblance to the “Stalin Scherzo” of the Tenth Symphony. Like the cantata, the work employs a choir, and it contains some rousing and very effective music. The recently discovered, brief Suite on Finnish Themes was given its recording premiere on BIS a few years ago, and fills out the program nicely.

On the whole, these are excellent performances. Bass-baritone Shenyang is a very impressive soloist, comfortable with the language, and he delivers the text of Stepan Razin with a firm tone and total conviction. The choir sings with clarity and bite, and the orchestra plays powerfully, if perhaps without the last degree of sheer volume at the climaxes. Soloists Mari Palo and Tuomas Katajala handle their roles in the Finnish Suite with warmth and easy style. The engineering is well-balanced and natural. This release is a valuable addition to the Shostakovich discography.

-- David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

1. Execution of Stepan Razin, Op. 119 by Dmitri Shostakovich
Conductor:  Vladimir Ashkenazy
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra,  Latvian State Choir
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1964; USSR 
2. Zoya Suite, Op. 64a by Dmitri Shostakovich
Conductor:  Vladimir Ashkenazy
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra,  Latvian State Choir
Period: 20th Century 
Written: ?1944; USSR 
3. Suite on Finnish Themes by Dmitri Shostakovich
Conductor:  Vladimir Ashkenazy
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra,  Latvian State Choir

Sound Samples

The Execution of Stepan Razin, Op. 119
Zoya Suite, Op. 64a (arr. L. Atovmyan for orchestra): I. Song about Zoya
Zoya Suite, Op. 64a (arr. L. Atovmyan for orchestra): II. Military Problem
Zoya Suite, Op. 64a (arr. L. Atovmyan for orchestra): III. Tragedy of a Loss
Zoya Suite, Op. 64a (arr. L. Atovmyan for orchestra): IV. Hero's Victory
Zoya Suite, Op. 64a (arr. L. Atovmyan for orchestra): V. The Heroine's Immortality
Suite on Finnish Themes: I. Energico
Suite on Finnish Themes: II. The Sky is Blue and White
Suite on Finnish Themes: III. Lento non troppo
Suite on Finnish Themes: IV. The Girls of this Village
Suite on Finnish Themes: V. The Strawberry is a Red Berry
Suite on Finnish Themes: VI. If I could be at Leisure
Suite on Finnish Themes: VII. My Beloved is Beautiful

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 Shostakovich Extras October 12, 2013 By Joseph Lieber, MD (Great Neck, NY) See All My Reviews "Both of these lesser known vocal pieces are wonderful additions to the better known symphonies. The orchestral playing, chorus and soloist give a rousing performance. Of note, the chorus and soloist are not of Russian lineage yet provide beautiful articulation. Though not as monumental as many of the symphonies these are very important works in the discography. The performances add to their fire." Report Abuse
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