17 May 2015

Shostakovich - the Strains of Cinema

From Composer of the Week, 9:00 am on 17 May 2015

Shos the silly little mouse

The Factory of the Eccentric Actor, or FEKS was a group producing theatrical productions that believed in finding art in the everyday. Shostakovich’s first film scores were written for members of FEKS and he continued the association throughout his score-writing career, as Michael Vinten describes in this programme.

It is hard to look at any of Shostakovich’s composition without mentioning Stalin and the politics that constrained him from the 1930s on.

“Between 1936 and Stalin’s death in 1953 writing film music became Shostakovich’s main source of income. He wrote music for 19 films... Most of the films were patriotic epics, largely fictionalised accounts of historic figures, or “everyman” movies like the much loved Maxim trilogy. Film makers were always acutely aware of Stalin peering over their shoulders and he made appearances (portrayed by an actor of course) in several films of the period.”

But there was a lighter side to Shostakovich’s film work too. The image is a screenshot from The Silly Little Mouse, a short film in which a mother mouse gets all the neighbourhood animals to help put her baby to sleep. This is the pig’s turn.

Music Details:

SHOSTAKOVICH: People's Holiday, from The Gadfly - Berlin Radio SO/ Leonid Grin (Capriccio 49 533)
GRAINGER: Paraphrase on Tchaikovsky’s Flower Waltz - Janine Sowden (pno) (ASV CD WHL 2117)
SHOSTAKOVICH: New Babylon - Basel Sinfonietta/ Mark Fitzgerald (Naxos 8.572824)
SHOSTAKOVICH: Alone excerpt - Frankfurt Radio SO/ Mark Fitzgerald (Naxos 8.570316)
SHOSTAKOVICH: Alone excerpt - Frankfurt Radio SO/ Mark Fitzgerald (Naxos 8.570316)
SHOSTAKOVICH: Song of the Counterplan - Royal Concertgebouw Orch/ Riccardo Chailly (Decca 460 792)
SHOSTAKOVICH: Internationale, from The Girlfriends - Polish National Radio SO/ Mar Fitzgerald (Naxos 8.5721138)
SHOSTAKOVICH: Great Citizen Funeral March+ - Royal Concertgebouw Orch/ Riccardo Chailly (Decca 460 792)
SHOSTAKOVICH: The Chase, from Adventures of Korzinkina  - Byelorussian Radio and TV SO/ Walter Mnatsakanov (Delos DRD 2005)
SHOSTAKOVICH: Chorus from King Lear - Berlin Radio SO/ Michail Jurowski (Capriccio 49 533)
SHOSTAKOVICH: Romance, from The Gadfly - Berlin Radio SO/ Leonid Grin (Capriccio 49 533)