Boris Tishchenko provides splendid orchestrations of three absolutely wonderful song cycles. Satires, originally composed for Galina Vishnevskaya, is a flat-out masterpiece, as much for Sasha Chorney’s poems as for the music itself. Four Verses of Captain Lebyadkin (from Dostoyevsky’s The Devils) is one of the composer’s very last works: dark, disturbing, and very quirky. The Five Romances of Words from “Krokodil” Magazine are both frightening and hilarious. Here, for example, is the entire text of the third song, “Discretion”: “Although that hooligan Fedulov beat me up, I didn’t report him to our wonderful police force. I decided that one beating was enough.” Shostakovich’s “Preface to the Complete Edition of My Works…” is one of the bitterest pieces of music ever written by anyone; biting and mercifully brief, the orchestration by Leonid Desyatnikov is equally apt.
The performances here are beyond criticism. Sergei Leiferkus sings with firm tone and a keen sense of the texts. Sanderling conducts with evident glee, and offers a major bonus in the form of the Eight Waltzes from film music. The piece from Golden Mountains features a surprising solo for slide guitar, and if you aren’t familiar with Shostakovich’s popular side then this music will open your eyes (and ears). Superb sonics, marvelous playing, and the uniqueness of the repertoire add up to an irresistible package for all Shostakovich collectors. [5/30/2007]