by Michael Lyons, Music Director
Shostakovich was a prolific composer of serious music in his own right—a composer with a Mozart-like brilliance regarding all aspects of composition. He is also famous for his amazing musical memory, best illustrated by his phenomenal orchestration of Tea for Two that he did in only 45 minutes, based on a light-hearted dare, while holding the tune in his head after only one hearing. He was also a terribly tormented individual who struggled with the oppression and restrictions placed upon him by the Soviet authorities of the time. Through it all, he created huge and magnificently dramatic scores while managing to keep the government content.
With this recording we are presented with a gateway to the “other” Dmitri Shostakovich—the composer of playful, whimsical little ditties packed with humor and sarcasm—all of it bringing to mind colorful visits to the Moscow circus. Much of the music comes from either the stage or screen—but all of it uniquely Shostakovich.
The magic of three-quarter time is augmented when handled by the misunderstood and troubled Shostakovich. The Gadfly Waltz is possibly the most delicate piece of music-box jewelry that I have ever heard and deserves a place on the same shelf as the beloved Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy of fellow countryman Tchaikovsk. Then its an about-face and we are into a raucous vodka-drenched galop of the most firery proportions.
And on it goes for twenty-one tracks of non-stop musical fun and fantastic imagination. Constantine Orbelian has the Moscow Chamber Orchestra under total control, telling each musical joke with the right amount of enthusiasm without ever letting the orchestra overdo the punchline. They sound alert and on the edge of their seats, performing the whole disc with just the right amount of smirk on their collective face.
This is a full hour of musical entertainment, varied and briliant, from a Russian master composer.
The famous Tea for Two and the troll-like Second Waltz as it has come to be known are just two of the hightlights. Put this one on and let your imagination soar with the vivid pictures that will race through your head.
(DELOS DE 3257)