Shostakovich: The Golden Ageby José Serebrier
Once upon a time in America -- in an era when the Vienna serialists, Bartók, and the products of homegrown artists such as Ives and Antheil remained unknown, the distended, crooked melodic line in Shostakovich's "Polka" from the ballet "The Golden Age" stood as the ne plus ultra of irreverent modernism. While this piece, and the suite that brought it to the world's concert halls, continued to be performed with frequency and as representative of "Shostakovich", the ballet from which it came was nowhere to be found for decade after decade. In 2006, the centenary of Shostakovich's birth, the ballet "The Golden Age" remains a rara avis, in equal measures as obscure as its "Polka" is famous. This Naxos recording of "The Golden Age," featuring conductor José Serebrier and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, is only the second complete recording ever made. It is very, very complete, taking all of the repeats in the "Polka" and adding "Tahiti Trot" as an Entr'acte between the second and third acts, as conductor Alexander Gauk did at the 1930 premiere. Hardcore Shostakovich fans might note is how little "The Golden Age" -- with its spindly textures, frequent allusions to pop music, and highly dissonant harmonic profile -- sounds like the Shostakovich they know. There is no evidence here of the lush orchestration and heightened sense of tragedy familiar from his symphonies. However, José Serebrier is not confused about "The Golden Age" or the deliberately irreverent Russian Futurist milieu to which it belongs and paints it crisply in the fresh, vivid, and occasionally garish colors it needs. From a performance standpoint this Naxos recording is ideal; however, from that recording it's a bit of a disappointment in that the strings are not well balanced in the mix; they need to be playing forte in order to register, even as the winds and brass are shrieking and blaring. But this Serebrier performance of Shostakovich's "The Golden Age" is nonetheless a huge improvement over the curiously un-sparkling, vaguely defined one made by Gennady Rozhdestvensky for Chandos that marked the work's debut on records.
- Release Date:
- The Age of Gold, ballet, Op. 22 - Dmitry Shostakovich - José Serebrier - Royal Scottish National Orchestra
Performance CreditsJosé Serebrier Primary Artist
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