Shostakovich. Songs and Waltzes
Russian Philharmonic Orchestra
Thomas Sanderling, conductor
Deutsche Grammophon, 2006
This collection entitled Songs and Waltzes was released for the centenary of the birth of Dmitri Shostakovich and it is a tribute that achieves excellence thanks to the happy choice of the interpreters. Baritone Sergei Leiferkus does not have a voice that can be defined “beautiful” in the classical sense of the word, but has its own special magnetic and dramatic force that is more than ever appropriate to the bare sarcasm that vibrates in Shostakovich’s verses and is further accentuated by the variety of situations and feelings of these compositions, in which it is easy to perceive morbidity, irony and disillusionment. His singing is strengthened by the aggressive approach of the director Thomas Sanderling, who leads the Russian Philharmonic Orchestra. The collaboration between singer and conductor create thus an intense album, full of introspection and biting shades, which make full justice to the character of the compositions.
I remember quickly the compositions of Songs and Waltzes. The album opens with The four verses of captain Lebyadkin, written by Shostakovich less than a year before his death, taking the text from Dostoevsky’s novel The Demons, which is enough to sense the psychological disorder that this music expresses. The next cycle is Satires. Pictures of the past that Shostakovich dedicated to Galina Vishnevskaya and whose verses are bitterly ironic, as in the case of The Awakening of Spring, which in the end reveals a paradoxical development of the opening condition. The next pieces are Five romances on words from Krokodil magazine and the first ever recording of Op. 123, which has long title: Preface to the Complete Edition of My Works and a Brief Reflection Apropos This Preface. The songs are presented in the orchestration made by Shostakovich’s student, Boris Tishchenko. The Waltzes from film music end the album worthily.