Friday, January 22, 2010

Shostakovich - Suites-Jazz-Ballet-Film Music - NSO Ukraine,Kuchar

Shostakovich - Suites-Jazz-Ballet-Film Music -
NSO Ukraine,Kuchar

Orchestral | Eac, wav, cue | log, cover | 3 CD, 794 MB
January 25, 2005 | Brilliant | RapidShare

Shostakovich wrote a lot of light music but not necessarily a lot of great light music. The Jazz Suite No. 2 (compiled by others) is a case in point. Conductor Theodore Kuchar deserves credit for making the suite consistently entertaining. Though most of it is simple dance music, Kuchar at least provides the proper idiom--the particular lilt--of each type of dance. So the listener at least gets to hear these chips from the master's workbench in friendly performances.

Kuchar also does as much as he can for the Overture on Russian and Kirghiz Themes, an empty-hearted dues-paying job alleging friendship between the USSR's dominant nationality and one of the dominated ones. Kuchar does not try to minimize the looseness of the work's structure; he just makes sure the high points are there. The piece falls into place as well as any I have heard, short of Neeme Järvi's less jolly performance on Deutsche Grammophon.

Jazz Suite No. 1 is the most imaginative work on the disc. While the Jazz Suite No. 2 has nearly nothing to do with jazz, No. 1 comes from the 1920s Euro-jazz milieu of Kurt Weill or Erwin Schulhoff and still manages to sound like real Shostakovich. Kuchar's performance is appropriately low and gutsy, and he adds a rhythmic underpinning that makes it my preferred performance. The Festive Overture is a piece that seems to laugh at its own trashiness. It suffers when played either too grandly or with its satire too obvious. Kuchar makes the right choice: it peeks over the top without going there. The remaining peppercorn, the tiny but big-hearted Novorossisk Chimes, adds a welcome dose of sincerity.

The National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine achieves an authentic sound--lithe rather than lush--for this music and plays with excellent ensemble. There are numerous solo turns for principal players, all taken with appropriate character. Brilliant Classics' SACD surround-sound is very good. Recorded in a lively ambience (making the surround channels a bit more noticeable than on many orchestral SACDs), the disc's only sonic flaw of note is its "splashy" quality at brassier tutti moments.----Joseph Stevenson

CD Content

Suite for Jazz Orchestra No. 2
Overture on Russian and Khirghiz Folksongs, for orchestra, Op. 115
Suite for Jazz Orchestra No. 1
Novorossisk Chimes (The Fire of Eternal Glory), for orchestra
Festive Overture, for orchestra in A major, Op. 96

The Bolt, suite from the ballet, Op. 27a
The Limpid Stream, suite from the ballet, Op. 39a
The Age of Gold, suite from the ballet, Op. 22a

Hamlet, suite from the film score, Op.116a
The Gadfly, suite from the film score, Op. 97a


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