Monday, May 16, 2011

Dead Souls

I've been waiting for Rodion Shchedrin's operatic version of Gogol's Dead Souls to appear on youtube for years. Here it is:

Shchedrin is a composer underrated because he clings so resolutely to tonality. Every one of the important post-Shostakovich Soviets carved their own path (comprising between them the most important body of classical music written in the twentieth century's second half), but none of them hewed so closely to Shostakovich's model. But don't be fooled, Shchedrin always sounds like his own man.

Here's what might be his most famous piece, and certainly the place to start: Naughty Limericks. Imagine the risk taken in playing a 'formalist' piece like this in a Soviet concert hall at the start of the Brezhnev era. Shostakovich himself must have been impressed.

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