One beneficiary of a trend to give film music more respect is Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich, one of the great symphonic composers of all time, who also wrote nearly fifty film scores. While many of these were for flat out cinematic propaganda hack-work, he wrote surprising good music even for films of that sort, and outstanding music for films that he could get into.
Eight films are represented on this superb collection. The seriousness this music deserves is betokened by the artists participating in it: Riccardo Chailly conducting the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam, one of the top ten symphony orchestras of the world.
Four of the films (The Counterplan, The Great Citizen, Pirogov, and to a lesser extend Alone) are films of the propaganda type. Counterplan resulted in Shostakovich's most popular tune, The Greeting Song, which has virtually become a Russian folk tune. On the other hand, Hamlet, the Gadfly, The Tale of the Silly Little Mouse, and Sofya Perovskaya are films of high literary merit and have music of suitable stature.
The real fine of the album is Silly Little Mouse, the whole score to that animated film in an arrangement for orchestra (i.e., turning vocal parts into instrumental solos and so forth) by Andrew Cornall. The recording reveals it as the most charming and innocent work in all of Shostakovich's output, his equivalent to Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf.
All the excerpts here are brilliantly performed. The famous Romance from the Gadfly is included (used in Riley, Ace of Spies), so it the Funeral March from the egregious film The Great Citizen, which Shostakovich later recycled as a theme of his Eleventh Symphony.
The 1998 recording, produced by Cornall, is top rate, as is, of course, the Concertgebouw's playing and Chailly's interpretations.