These choruses are not (or not entirely) the tub-thumping exercises in blatant jingoistic rabble-rousing that you might expect, but contain many moments of poetry that make them secular rivals to earlier works by Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov which draw from Russia's great Orthodox tradition of choral music. In Stalin's Russia such an option was closed to Shostakovich, of course, even had he wished to explore it, but instead he used the poetry of Revolutionary leaders and imbued it both with his own, bitter-sweet harmonic vocabulary while never losing sight of the powerful character of Russian choruses for whom he would be writing. One such, Moscow-based, performs the two cycles on this recording, and they naturally have the idiom, and language, under their skins.
- Only available recording as a single issue of these works.
- As an “obedient” Soviet artist, Shostakovich set texts of revolutionary poets to music. The result is vintage Shostakovich: under the blatant populist message of the text we hear a melancholy and tender heart. The choral arrangements of Russian Folk Songs derive inspiration from the rich Russian folk culture, and Russian Orthodox Chant (though of course in a hidden way, as it was forbidden by the authorities).
- Excellent performances by Russian forces.
- Sung texts available for download by clicking on 'Download booklet' below the cover.