Magazine article Gramophone

Shostakovich: 'Cantatas'

Magazine article Gramophone

Shostakovich: 'Cantatas'

Article excerpt

Shostakovich

'Cantatas'

The Execution of Stepan Razin, Op 119. The Sun Shines Over Our Motherland, Op 90. The Song of the Forests, Op 81

Kostiantin Andrejev ten Aleksei Tanovitski bass Narva Boys' Choir; Estonian Concert Choir; Estonian National Symphony Orchestra / Paavo Jarvi

Erato [F] 2564 61666-6 (80' * DDD)

Divining the intention behind Shostakovich's cantatas is a favourite game for commentators. Hackwork carried out with a minimum of commitment? Unsullied Socialist Realist acclamation? Secret subversion? Affirmation of what Socialist Realism might have been had it not been debauched by talentless timeservers? All those readings are potentially supported by the music, albeit to varying degrees according to the work in question, because there is no getting away from the caustic aggression of The Execution of Stepan Razin, the triumphalism of The Song of the Forests or the blandness of The Sun Shines Over Our Motherland, whatever spirit those qualities may have been intended in. Nor is there much that performers can do, beyond giving them a maximum of welly.

Which is precisely what Paavo Jarvi and his Estonian forces do. Indeed, so rich is the tone of the Estonian Concert Choir that they eclipse even Ashkenazy's lusty Latvians in The Song of the Forests, while bass Aleksei Tanovitski certainly outshines his rival (tenor Kostiantin Andrejev is admittedly rather less outstanding). …

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