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Hyperion Records

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View of the Monument to Peter the Great in Senate Square, St Petersburg (1870) by Vasilij Ivanovic Surikov (1848-1916)
State Russian Museum, St Petersburg / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDA67865
Recording details: October 2010
Concert Hall, Wyastone Estate, Monmouth, United Kingdom
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Simon Eadon
Release date: February 2012
Total duration: 17 minutes 11 seconds

'A finely played programme that can be recommended with confidence' (Gramophone)

'Lawrence Power and Simon Crawford-Phillips embark on a musical narrative of epic proportions … a performance that shows great insight and poignancy. Framing the Sonata on this beautifully recorded disc are two extraordinarily resourceful transcriptions for viola and piano made by two of Shostakovich's contemporaries. The highest compliment that can be paid to the duo's strongly characterised performances of the Op 34 Seven Preludes is that the music sounds as if it were made for these instruments' (BBC Music Magazine)

'This fine Shostakovich CD … Power and Crawford-Phillips are eloquent interpreters, spare as well as generous in expressing the work's pervasive melancholy' (The Observer)

'Ever since Lawrence Power emerged several years ago as one of the world's finest exponents of the viola I have wanted him to record Shostakovich's masterly viola sonata, his last completed work. This new recording fulfils all of my expectations … such is the extraordinary nature of this sonata that it does not respond to any kind of superficial treatment, and Power's performance is, on balance, the most penetrating I have ever heard' (International Record Review)

'Power and Crawford-Phillips leave us in no doubt of the stature of this final masterpiece … one of Power's most compelling recordings yet for Hyperion' (The Sunday Times)

'A most impressive rendering of the score's unique sound world, faithfully caught by Hyperion's engineering' (The Strad)

Five Pieces from The Gadfly, Op 97

Scene: Moderato  [2'23]
Romance  [4'41]
Folk Festival  [2'43]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
From the time of his first public successes as a student until near the end of his life, Shostakovich wrote regularly for the cinema. It was an activity he occasionally complained about, but it provided a good income, especially when official disgrace stripped him of other means of financial support.

The Gadfly (1955) was an adaptation of a novel by the English writer Ethel Voynich, concerning the activities of an Italian revolutionary, Arthur, in the 1830s and ’40s who acquires the nickname Gadfly by having become a thorn in the flesh of the authorities. The film’s director Alexander Faintsimmer is better known for Lieutenant Kijé, and Shostakovich’s score rivals Prokofiev’s in its melodic directness and memorability.

Borisovsky’s five arrangements begin with the portentous music entitled ‘The Cliff’, composed in updated Russian national style. This is taken from the opening scene in the film, where the revolutionaries survey their homeland from a windswept cliff-top. The ‘Intermezzo’ conflates three movements associated with scenes in the cathedral. These originally featured the organ and were tinged with irony, since the Church is firmly on the side of repression and Arthur is tricked into betraying his comrades in the confessional. The piquant ‘Barrel-Organ Waltz’ originally accompanied Arthur walking through a town square some years later to a meeting with the Revolutionary party. The undoubted hit in the film is the ‘Romance’, originally entitled ‘Youth’ and depicting the young Arthur’s revolutionary fervour (rather than, as commonly assumed, his love for Gemma, the main heroine in the drama); its use as the theme-tune for the British TV spy drama Reilly, Ace of Spies helped to spread its fame to the West. Lev Atovmyan’s suite of twelve numbers from the total of twenty-four in the film, on which Borisovsky based his transcription, conflates this movement with ‘A Slap in the Face’, where Gemma discovers that Arthur has inadvertently betrayed the revolutionary movement. Equally attractive is the ‘Folk Festival’, again originally set in the town square. This adopts the folk-celebratory tone that was a more or less compulsory skill for Soviet composers, one Shostakovich had already mastered in the finale of his Symphony No 10 in 1953 and in his Festive Overture the following year.

from notes by David Fanning © 2012

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