Joseph Previte wrote:
>Search at Tower Records reveals the following, of which only the last
>version that is in stock and available. The second is a special order
>item, and the first is no longer available. It is the version that I
>have, and enjoy it for what it is. Is really not much more than a pretty,
>politically directed choral work that praises Stalin. Terribly tonal,
>nothing to offend or challenge. Not classic DSCH!
I found a much better DSCH find in the Tower cutout bin: Song Cycles
for Bass Voice (Pyotr Gluboky, bass; Natalia Rassudova, piano). This is
classic Shostakovich. Has various settings of Pushkin, as well as Burns,
Shakespeare, and other English-language writers. (All translated into
Russian, and then back into English for the liner notes, which is
interesting in itself.) Plus some very amusing "settings" of stories from
the Soviet satirical magazine "Krokodil" and other oddities. There is an
especially amusing tale about a cockroach (not the Kafka one).
It has been said that in order to understand DSCH's musical allusions,
one must refer to his Pushkin songs to see what verbal message he is
surreptitiously conveying. The first Pushkin poem on the CD, "Rebirth",
may shed some light on the true meaning of the Fifth Symphony. "Rebirth"
is about a "barbarous painter" who defiles a masterpiece by "tracing over
it his own design, arbitrary and devoid of sense". Over time the
defilements fall away and the original artist's creation is restored.
The last couplet reads (in translation):
And this is how the delusions vanish from my soul Letting the pure visions
of earlier days be reborn.
This is set to a familiar four-note repeated figure from the finale of the
Fifth Symphony. Draw your own conclusions as to what DSCH was trying to
say about his society.