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Shostakovich: The Fall of Berlin (The)

Shostakovich: The Fall of Berlin (The)

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This recording, previously issued on Marco Polo in its film music series, now reappears at budget price on Naxos, and it's quite welcome. The Fall of Berlin, a typical World War II saga depicting Russian heroism and the last days of Hitler, inspired Shostakovich to some good battle music and more than a few characterful episodes depicting both sides of the ongoing struggle. There's no reason to believe that the composer did not sincerely desire the defeat of Germany, and so did not take this particular job seriously, all questions of Socialist Realism aside. In any event, the film offered the chance to write a lot of music, some 45 minutes' worth, much of it unusually extended and developed. The result is certainly listenable on its own apart from the film, even if for obvious reasons the score is more than a bit strident and relentless in depicting both struggle and triumph.

Shostakovich took pride in much of his work for films, even while regarding it as something apart from his career as a "serious" composer. It's easy to understand why: as André Previn once mentioned, the requirements of working on movies tend to minimize opportunities for "the elongated thought." That said, The Unforgettable Year 1919 offered Shostakovich the chance to write a full-blown romantic piano concerto movement similar to Addinsell's Warsaw Concerto, and he produced something eminently cinematic, if utterly atypical of his more familiar style. The track in question is somewhat confusingly called The Assault on the Red Hill, and you can have a lot of fun playing it for your friends and asking them to guess the composer. The performances are a bit rough and ready, not unusual given this source, but they're certainly in character and vividly recorded. Shostakovich fans will need no further urging from me.

--David Hurwitz,
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Product Description:

  • Release Date: August 29, 2006

  • UPC: 747313023875

  • Catalog Number: 8570238

  • Label: Naxos

  • Number of Discs: 1

  • Composer: Dmitri Shostakovich

  • Conductor: Adriano

  • Orchestra/Ensemble: Moscow Capella, Moscow Symphony Orchestra

  • Performer: Ellena Alekseyeva