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Rodion Konstantinovich Shchedrin (b1932)

The Left-Hander

Mariinsky Orchestra, Valery Gergiev (conductor)
Download only
Recording details: July 2013
Mariinsky-II, St Petersburg, Russia
Produced by Vladimir Ryabenko
Engineered by Vladimir Ryabenko
Release date: March 2015
Total duration: 119 minutes 27 seconds
 

Specially written for Valery Gergiev on the occasion of his 60th birthday, Rodion Shchedrin’s The Left-Hander takes its story from Nikolai Leskov’s satirical novella of 1881, The Tale of Cross-Eyed Lefty from Tula and the Steel Flea. This is a comedy of Russians and Englishmen, new technology, old traditions, and strong drink.

Reviews

'Shchedrin's scoring is inventive and colourful—folk instruments underline the Slavic nostalgia—and his vocal lines always singable. Leading the characteristically strong Mariinsky forces, Kristina Alieva entertains with her coloratura as the ornamental insect, and in the title role the lyric tenor Andrei Popov gives a touching performance of a character forced out of his comfort zone' (BBC Music Magazine)
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'All in all, a useful addition to the catalogue, if maybe not a sure-fire hit' (The Daily Telegraph)

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Lefty: The Tale of Cross-Eyed Lefty From Tula and the Steel Flea is Nikolai Leskov’s most famous work. In Russia everybody knows this tale. Its story offers rich source material for an opera. The plot is characterized by exaggeration of grotesque proportions. But what is it: a Bible parable, a travelling theatre yarn or an epic tale? It has a motley cast of lively, colourful characters. The story encompasses the Russian tsars Alexander I and Nicholas I, the Winter Palace and the British royal court. It is at once buffoonery and tragedy. The readers laugh through their tears.

But look a little deeper and you’ll clearly see the juxtaposition of two ways of life: that of the rational British and the irrational Russians.

And lastly, there is the protagonist. The cross-eyed, illiterate, nimble-fingered craftsman from Tula. In my view, he is a condensation of the most essential and typical features of the Russian national character: innovative talent, resourcefulness, the ability to laugh at oneself, lack of concern for human life and a disastrous love of alcohol. And there is the eternal Russian theme of power and the common man, the lack of demand for genius in the homeland.

This full-length two-act opera was composed for the opening of a new stage in the Mariinsky Theatre in St Petersburg (Mariinsky II). Valery Gergiev, who turned sixty this year (2013), is the Musical Director and Conductor. This score is dedicated to him.

Rodion Konstantinovich Shchedrin 2015

Le Gaucher est le texte le plus célèbre de Nikolaï Leskov. En Russie, tout le monde le connaît. Le conte de Leskov est une source d’inspiration d’une extrême richesse pour un livret d’opéra. L’histoire relève de l’exagération grotesque. De quoi s’agit-il ? D’une parabole évangélique, d’une bouffonnerie, d’une épopée? Les personnages hauts en couleur sont pleins de contrastes et de profondeur. Les tsars Alexandre Ier et Nicolas Ier, le Palais d’hiver, la cour de sa Majesté britannique … La comédie y côtoie la tragédie, et le rire les larmes …

Mais à y regarder de plus près, on aperçoit clairement la juxtaposition artistique de deux types d’existence—le monde rationnel des Britanniques et celui des Russes, irrationnel à souhait.

Et il y a enfin le personnage principal de l’artisan bigle et analphabète de Toula, aux «mains d’or». Il représente, me semble-t-il, l’essence même du tempérament russe—talent inné, esprit, autodérision, indifférence à la vie, et amour pernicieux de la bouteille. On y retrouve aussi le thème éternel russe du pouvoir et de l’homme ordinaire. Le génie superflu dans son propre pays …

Cet opéra intégral en deux actes a été composé pour marquer l’inauguration de la nouvelle salle du Mariinski à Saint-Pétersbourg (Mariinski II). Valeri Guerguiev, qui a fêté son soixantième anniversaire en 2013, en assure la direction musicale et dirige l’orchestre. Ma partition lui est dédiée.

Rodion Konstantinovich Shchedrin 2015

Der Linkshänder—Die Geschichte vom Tulaer schielenden Linkshänder und vom stählernen Floh ist das berühmteste Werk des Schrift stellers Nikolai Leskow. Die Geschichte ist in Russland allgemein bekannt, und sie bietet reichlich Stoff für eine Oper. Kennzeichnend für die Handlung sind die grotesken Übertreibungen, doch mit was genau haben wir es hier zu tun: mit einer biblischen Parabel, einem Schwank für ein Wandertheater, einer epischen Erzählung? Die Figuren sind allesamt lebensprühende, schillernde Charaktere; Zar Alexander I. und Zar Nikolaus I. spielen ebenso eine Rolle wie der Winterpalast und der englische Königshof. Die Geschichte ist eine Posse und eine Tragödie zugleich, der Leser lacht über seine Tränen hinweg.

Beim zweiten, näheren Blick erkennt man allerdings, dass hier zwei Lebensweisen gegeneinander gestellt werden: die der rationalen Briten und die der irrationalen Russen.

Und dann gibt es noch den Protagonisten, den schielenden, ungebildeten, aber mit geschickten Händen gesegneten Handwerker aus Tula. Meiner Ansicht nach verkörpert er die wesentlichen typischen Eigenschaft en des russischen Nationalcharakters: ungemeiner Einfallsreichtum, große Findigkeit, die Fähigkeit zu Selbstironie, Gleichgültigkeit dem menschlichen Leben gegenüber und ein fataler Hang zum Alkohol. Dazu kommt das ewige russische Th ema von Obrigkeit und einfachem Mann, von Genialität, die im eigenen Land nicht gefragt ist.

Diese abendfüllende Oper in zwei Akten wurde für die Einweihung der neuen Bühne des Mariinski-Theaters in St. Petersburg (Mariinski II) komponiert. Waleri Gergijew, der in dem Jahr (2013) sechzig wurde, ist dort Intendant und Dirigent. Ihm ist die Partitur gewidmet.

Rodion Konstantinovich Shchedrin 2015

«Левша»—самая известная повесть Николая Лескова. В России ее знают все. Повесть Лескова предоставляет богатейший материал для оперного сюжета. Уже сама фабула повествования—гротесковое преувеличение. Что это? Библейская притча, ярмарочный балаганный миф, эпическое сказание?.. Яркие, сочные, контрастирующие характеры. Русские цари Александр I, Николай I, Зимний дворец, английский королевский двор. Буффонада и трагедия. Смех сквозь слезы …

А если заглянуть чуть вглубь, то и очевидное художественное противопоставление двух форм бытия—рациональной британской и иррациональной русской.

И, наконец, главный герой. Косой неграмотный мастеровой из Тулы «с золотыми руками». В нем сфокусированы, думаю, важнейшие и типичнейшие черты русского национального характера: самобытная одаренность, смекалка, самоирония, безразличие к человеческой жизни, пагубная страсть к алкоголю. И вечная русская тема—власть и простой люд. Невостребованность гения на своей родине …

Объемная двухактная опера написана к открытию новой сцены Мариинского театра в Санкт-Петербурге (Мариинский-2). Музыкальный руководитель и дирижер спектакля—Валерий Гергиев, которому в этом году исполнилось 60 лет (2013). Моя партитура посвящена ему.

Rodion Konstantinovich Shchedrin 2015

Reading the Russian libretto …

Russian is an almost completely phonetic language, so in order to follow the Russian libretto it should be sufficient to grasp the phonetic value of each letter in the Cyrillic alphabet, and to heed a few basic rules about Russian pronunciation.

The values given here follow standard British pronunciation except where indicated. Each letter in a Russian word is clearly pronounced, and there are no diphthongs except in vowel pairs with the letter й.

The soft sign and the rarer hard sign have no independent phonetic value, but merely slightly alter the pronunciation of preceding consonants. The vowels е, ё, ю, and я also soft en (palatalise) preceding consonants, except for ж, ч, ш, and щ.

Each Russian word has one stressed syllable. All other syllables are equal. Syllable stress has no effect on the phonetic value of letters, with the exception of the letter o, which when unstressed is pronounced as an a. Thus, the word молоко (“milk”) is pronounced ma-la-ko.

The only other signifi cant exception to phonetic pronunciation in Russian is the letter г in the masculine genitive singular ending (-его or -ого), when it becomes a “V” sound, e.g. кого, meaning “of whom”, is pronounced ka-vo.

Alphabet (English equivalent — Examples)
A, а (A — as in “part”)
Б, б (B — as in “banana”)
В, в (V — as in “very”)
Г, г (G — hard, as in “good”)
Д, д (D — as in “dart”)
Е, е (Ye — as in “yet”)
Ё, ё (Yo — as in “yo-yo”)
Ж, ж (Zh — as in “seizure”)
З, з (Z — as in “zoo”)
И, и (Ee — as in “heed”)
Й, й (I — as in “Thai” or “koi”)
К, к (K — as in “kite”)
Л, л (L — as in “love”)
М, м (M — as in “mop”)
Н, н (N — as in “normal”)
O, o (O — as in “home”)
П, п (P — as in “poem”)
Р, р (R — rolled, between an English “r” and “d”)
С, с (S — as in “snake”)
Т, т (T — as in “tone”)
У, у (Oo — as in “shoot”)
Ф, ф (F — as in “fun”)
Х, х (“Kh” — aspirated, as in “loch”)
Ц, ц (Ts — as in “cuts”)
Ч, ч (Ch — as in “check”)
Ш, ш (Sh — as in “should”)
Щ, щ (Shch — as in “fresh cheese”)
ъ (hard signmakes consonant in front harder)
Ы, ы (Ui — as in French “puis”)
ь (soft signsoftens the preceding consonant)
Э, э (E — as in “epic”)
Ю, ю (Yu — as in “yule”)
Я, я (Ya — as in “yacht”)

Mariinsky

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