Where did it all start?
Dmitri Dmitrievich Shostakovich was twenty two years old when he completed his first opera, The Nose, in 1928. Not even Mozart and Rossini had created operas of such interest by this age. With The Nose, Shostakovich produced a score which was both a striking composition in its novelty and creative richness – a contemporaneous expression of his reflections on current art – and a map holding the key to his future work in symphony and opera (two were to follow, including the unfinished The Gamblers.
Total time: 01:41:31
Mark Donahue, (Sound Mirror)
|Original Recording Format|
John Newton, Dirk Sobotka (Sound Mirror)
Marinksy concert hall
|Recording Type & Bit Rate||
|Release Date||November 4, 2016|
“With close to 80 singing roles, albeit some of them have only a couple of lines, Shostakovich’s first opera, The Nose, is a major logistical undertaking, to say nothing of its sheer complexity and the tricky contours and co-ordination of the vocal lines and spiky instrumentation. As one of the singers at the 1930 Leningrad premiere remarked, “It was difficult to present the opera in such a way that something useful and interesting might come out of our efforts.”
Times have moved on, however, and The Nose has proved to be both dramatically feasible and musically vibrant ever since its rescue from official Soviet obscurity in 1974. This sharply observed recording from the Mariinsky Theatre transcends the snags, harnessing the score’s avant-garde idiom together with its thrusts of mordant Gogolian satire, its cunning musical characterization and whirlwind fantasy to reveal the opera in all its bizarre brilliance. 5 Star Rating.”
“As the indefatigable Valery Gergiev works his way through the standard and not-so-standard repertoire of Russian opera, it’s a delight that he has turned his attention to Shostakovich’s astonishing The Nose, written when the composer was just 22. The opera is astonishing not only because of the young composer’s absolute mastery of one of the most difficult art forms (which makes it all the more tragic that he completed only two operas), but because of the daring originality of his music, which is ideally suited to the absurdist story by Gogol on which it’s based. (The British musicologist Arthur Jacobs called The Nose “the comic Wozzeck.”)
The opera is full of alarming and incongruous but entirely convincing musical turns. Virtually the only predictable thing about it is its lack of predictability. The zany and eccentric orchestration, which prominently features the percussion, is unlike quite anything that had come before it.
Shostakovich’s vocal writing is mostly atonal, but it’s relatively lyrical, without the angularity that frequently characterizes atonal vocal writing. Gergiev leads the Chorus and Orchestra and soloists of the Mariinsky Theater in a colorful and propulsive reading that fully exposes the brash quirkiness of the score.
The opera has over 80 characters, and even with extensive doubling of minor roles, the vocal resources it requires are huge. It’s very much an ensemble piece, and the Mariinsky singers perform it with polish and gusto. Vladislas Sulimsky and Sergey Semishkur are especially effective in the critical roles of the hapless Kovalev and his errant nose. The sound of the DSD recording is vibrant and clean, with a terrific sense of presence and immediacy. Highly recommended for any fans of modern opera. 5 Star Rating.”
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