SHOSTAKOVICH: The Lady and the Hooligan; Ballet Suite No. 2 – Mnatsakanov – Delos

by | Sep 17, 2011 | Classical Reissue Reviews

SHOSTAKOVICH: The Lady and the Hooligan; Ballet Suite No. 2 – Minsk Symphony Orchestra/ Walter Mnatsakanov – Delos 2004, 72:10 [Distr. by Naxos] ***1/2:
Search the Shostakovich catalog high and low and you are not liable to come across The Lady and the Hooligan—it is another one of those choreographic compendiums that takes music from many pre-existing scores like The Bolt, The Limpid Stream, The Gadfly, and the Sonata for Cello and Piano. And though this is listed in Delos’s “Shostakovich Film Series” it really wasn’t a film per se—the libretto was taken from a screenplay by Vladimir Mayakovsky based on the novel The Workers’ Lady-Teacher, which flopped badly but worked to some success as a one-act ballet, yet has not been revived recently.
The music is of course outstanding as each mined work that serves as source material for this score is tremendous; but if you have those other scores this one is hardly mandatory unless you are a completest. The odd thing about these sorts of pastiches is that the individual episodes don’t always follow what one hears in the music, though I must say that this one is pretty evocative, and those responsible for the choices chose well. The orchestra is a little weak, the strings quite grainy in places and you won’t find the last degree of finesse; but none of this proves the proverbial showstopper and I found the whole experience enjoyable.
The Ballet Suite No. 2 is one of two that the composer created, and this one was used also as a contributor to The Lady and the Hooligan. The composer’s ballet and film music is always worth hearing, and this one belongs in any good Shostakovich collection. Overall this is a decent release; though don’t be fooled by the 2010 date—this recording was made in 1994. Good but not spectacular sound, a good solid recording that may or may not prove necessary according to your existing acquisitions. [What ever happened to the fine surround sound and SACD recordings of U.S. musicians which Delos used to offer?…Ed.]
—Steven Ritter

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