Shostakovich is so well known for his fifteen large-scale symphonies that some of his other orchestral compositions, up until the last twenty years, have fallen by the wayside. Thankfully, however, Italian conductor Riccardo Chailly has helped to correct this oversight with his recordings of the composer's lesser known music. This recording, known as "The Dance Album", focuses on what passes for "dance" music in Shostakovich's oevure--though one mustn't take the term too literally when dealing with a composer who dealt with irony much of his life.
Featured here are the orchestral suites Shostakovich composed for the 1955 movie THE GADFLY, the 1931 ballet THE BOLT, and the 1959 operetta MOSCOW-CHERYOMUSHKI (the latter in a four-movement suite making its first-ever appearance on record). The dance rhythms are very vibrant and very Russian, something like accelerated Tchaikovsky, especially in MOSCOW-CHERYOMUSHKI; and the quirky "Variations" movement in THE BOLT. The GADFLY suite, in the meantime, contains the famous "Romance" that is by far one of Shostakovich's most popular single movements. Each of these works is supposedly very supportive of the Stalin doctrine, though again one can't look too closely at that, given Shostakovich's consistently troubled relation with that tyrant of Iron Curtain political correctness.
On his previous Shostakovich excursions into "Jazz" and "Film" music, Chailly utilized his Concertgebouw Orchestra. On this 1995 London recording, he leads the Philadelphia Orchestra, the world-class ensemble that was very well known for having given many Shostakovich's works their premieres on this side of the Iron Curtain under the tenures of both Leopold Stokowski and Eugene Ormandy. The orchestra's famed Philadelphia Sound, while it did change under the tenures of Riccardo Muti and Wolfgang Sawallisch, nevertheless remains undiminished, and Chailly makes the most of the orchestra's capabilities.
To many, this is certainly going to be new music, and to others very unfamiliar. But it is very worthwhile to have a recording of a great composer's lesser-known works, especially when the performance is by one of the world's finest orchestras under one of the great conductors of our time.