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Hyperion Records

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Dieppe, 14 July 1905: Night by John Duncan Ferguson (1874-1961)
Reproduced by courtesy of the National Gallery of Scotland / C Perth and Kinross District Council Museum & Art Gallery Department
Track(s) taken from CDA66605
Recording details: February 1992
St Bartholomew's Church, New York, USA
Produced by Paul Spicer
Engineered by Christopher Greenleaf
Release date: July 1992
Total duration: 6 minutes 53 seconds

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Shostakovich's Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, Op 29 (Act II, Scene 4)

Passacaglia  [6'53]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Shostakovich wrote the opera from which this Passacaglia is taken in his mid-twenties. It was an immediate success but was condemned, shortly after it was written, in a Pravda article headed ‘Muddle instead of Music’ which the composer believed was largely written by Stalin—who even vilified the opera as ‘leftish chaos instead of natural human music’! Stalin’s reaction to this opera set the seal on Shostakovich’s career in its turbulent development from then on.

The heroine of the opera, Katerina Ismailova, becomes by her situation and actions the ‘Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk’ of the story from which Shostakovich drew his libretto. She is trapped in a loveless, heirless marriage, and takes a lover who is caught and flogged by her father-in-law. In revenge she doses the latter’s mushrooms with rat poison and he dies, but not before naming her to the priest as his murderess. As this scene ends (Act II, Scene 4) the Passacaglia crashes in, a massive evocation of the forces in which Katerina is entangled. This arrangement of the Passacaglia for organ is by the composer.

from notes by Ian Carson © 1992

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