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Shostakovich: Six Romances, Scottish Ballade, Poems Of Michelangelo / Finley, Sanderling


Release Date: 03/25/2014 
Label:  Ondine   Catalog #: 1235  
Composer:  Dmitri ShostakovichTraditional
Performer:  Gerald Finley
Conductor:  Thomas Sanderling
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews



SHOSTAKOVICH 6 Romances on Verses by Raleigh, Burns, and Shakespeare, op. 62a. Suite on Poems by Michelangelo Buonarroti, op. 145a. TRAD (orch. Shostakovich) Annie Laurie Gerald Finley (b bar); Thomas Sanderling, cond; Helsinki PO ONDINE 1235-2 (62:00 Text and Translation)


Is Gerald Finley Read more today’s Fischer-Dieskau? I don’t mean to suggest that their voices sound alike—or that they share an interpretive perspective. But like his predecessor, Finley is comfortable in opera, oratorio, and song; his repertoire stretches from the Baroque period through Schubert and Wagner to the present; his sense of musical phrase is unfailing; he’s got a sensitivity to literary nuance, coupled with a clarity of enunciation, that few singers can match; and most important of all, his interpretations, for all their emotional immediacy, are marked by an astonishing level of intellect and care. He’s heard in peak form on this new release.


Pride of place goes to the most familiar work, the Suite on Poems by Michelangelo . Written at the very end of Shostakovich’s life, it shares the death-drenched aura of his other late compositions. Still, it has more variety than either of the major works that flank it, the 15th Quartet and the Viola Sonata; and Finley has the tact necessary to bring out its range of expression without in any way diluting its over-riding bleakness. The subtle despair of “Verità,” the sense of wonder in “Mattina,” the anger of “Ira,” the chisel-against-stone defiance of “Creatività”: Finley captures it all with an unfailing strength of character that never loses its sense of refinement. He’s especially skillful when it comes to sustaining long lines (say, in “Notte”) and in maintaining the shape of the recitative-like passages (say, in “Distacco”). He gives the 1943 Romances on English Poetry the same finely kaleidoscopic quality—note, for instance, how he catches the varying shades of desolation in “Sir Walter Raleigh to His Sonne” or of the bitterness in “Macpherson’s Farewell.” And he’s just as comfortable and convincing in Shostakovich’s 1944 orchestration of Annie Laurie , performed with utter simplicity. Thomas Sanderling’s lifetime of experience with Shostakovich pays off in the sureness of the accompaniments.


Although Fischer-Dieskau’s first recording of the Suite , with pianist Aribert Reimann, used Italian texts, Finley’s is apparently the first recording of the orchestral version to do so (hence my choice of the Italian, rather than the Russian, titles of the songs). It also offers what’s advertised as the first recording of Annie Laurie —and the first recording of the Romances to use the large-scale 1943 orchestration (long thought lost) rather than the original 1942 piano accompaniment or the chamber-orchestra version that Shostakovich made late in his life. (To add to the discographic rarity here, the performances of the Romances use the English originals rather than the Russian translations that Shostakovich set). Details of the various editions and their histories are provided in Marianna Kankare-Loikkanen’s informative contribution to the program booklet, which also includes an essay by Finley called “Setting Michelangelo to Shostakovich,” which describes the issues involved both in finding the best texts (as a student, Finley himself studied medieval Italian) and in making the minor musical adjustments necessary so they fit. Good sound, too.


Given the particular choices of language and orchestration, of course, there’s really no competition for this release. Even with a bulging catalog, though, this would be a top priority.


FANFARE: Peter J. Rabinowitz
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Works on This Recording

1.
Suite on Poems of Michelangelo Buonarroti, Op. 145a by Dmitri Shostakovich
Performer:  Gerald Finley (Baritone)
Conductor:  Thomas Sanderling
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1974; USSR 
2.
Annie Laurie by Traditional
Performer:  Gerald Finley (Baritone)
Conductor:  Thomas Sanderling
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra
Written: Scotland 
Notes: Arrangement: Dmitri Shostakovich 
3.
Romances (6), Op. 62a by Dmitri Shostakovich
Performer:  Gerald Finley (Baritone)
Conductor:  Thomas Sanderling
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1943; USSR 

Sound Samples

6 Romances, Op. 62a (Sung in English): I. Sir Walter Raleigh to His Sonne
6 Romances, Op. 62a (Sung in English): II. Oh Wert Thou in the Cauld Blast...
6 Romances, Op. 62a (Sung in English): III. Macpherson's Farewell
6 Romances, Op. 62a (Sung in English): IV. Jenny
6 Romances, Op. 62a (Sung in English): V. Sonnet LXVI
6 Romances, Op. 62a (Sung in English): VI. The King's Campaign (The Grand Old Duke of York)
Annie Laurie (arr. D. Shostakovich for voice and orchestra)
Suite on Verses of Michelangelo Buonarroti, Op. 145a (Sung in Italian): I. Verita (Truth)
Suite on Verses of Michelangelo Buonarroti, Op. 145a (Sung in Italian): II. Mattina (Morning)
Suite on Verses of Michelangelo Buonarroti, Op. 145a (Sung in Italian): III. Amore (Love)
Suite on Verses of Michelangelo Buonarroti, Op. 145a (Sung in Italian): IV. Distacco (Separation)
Suite on Verses of Michelangelo Buonarroti, Op. 145a (Sung in Italian): V. Ira (Wrath)
Suite on Verses of Michelangelo Buonarroti, Op. 145a (Sung in Italian): VI. Dante
Suite on Verses of Michelangelo Buonarroti, Op. 145a (Sung in Italian): VII. All'Esule (To the Exile)
Suite on Verses of Michelangelo Buonarroti, Op. 145a (Sung in Italian): VIII. Creativita (Creativity)
Suite on Verses of Michelangelo Buonarroti, Op. 145a (Sung in Italian): IX. Notte (Night)
Suite on Verses of Michelangelo Buonarroti, Op. 145a (Sung in Italian): X. Morte (Death)
Suite on Verses of Michelangelo Buonarroti, Op. 145a (Sung in Italian): XI. Immortalita (Immortality)

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