The third of the three discs released by Deutsche Grammophon in 2006 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the birth Dmitry Shostakovich, this disc, entitled Songs and Waltzes, is as impressive and necessary as the two previous releases. The performers -- Russian bass-baritone Sergei Leiferkus with Thomas Sanderling conducting the Russian Philharmonic Orchestra -- are first rate, while the repertoire -- 15 late songs orchestrated by diverse hands plus eight waltzes taken from film scores or a stage production -- is highly unusual. Leiferkus, a wonderfully lyrical but still strongly dramatic singer, has recorded many of Shostakovich's songs before but not these songs in these orchestrations (done by either Boris Tishchenko or Leonid Desyatnikov) and every single one is amazing. True, some are extremely ironic, others are extravagantly morbid, and a few exceedingly vile, but almost all of them are hilariously funny and completely successful in Leiferkus' powerful interpretations. Sanderling is a supportive but aggressive accompanist in the songs -- an approach that entirely suits the close to belligerent music -- and an affectionate but rambunctious leader in the waltzes -- an approach that likewise entirely suits the sarcastically sentimental music. The Russian Philharmonic responds to Sanderling with more than professional dedication and its playing is consistently striking. Anyone who really loves Shostakovich probably already has the two previous discs in this series -- a coupling of the music for The Priest and His Servant Balda plus three orchestral movements from Lady MacBeth of Mtsensk played by Sanderling and the Russian Philharmonic and a coupling of orchestrations of the violin and viola sonatas played by Gidon Kremer, Yuri Bashmet, and the KREMERata BALTICA -- and probably can't wait to get this disc. Deutsche Grammophon's sound is unquestionably real.
Shostakovich: Songs and Waltzes
Shostakovich: Songs and Waltzes Review
by James Leonard