RODION SHCHEDRIN (b.1932): Boyarina Morozova.
Catalogue Number: 12K099
Reference: WER 6700 2
Description: This brand-new stage work just received, two months ago, the Echo Klassik award in Germany for "best opera recording of the year". It depicts an episode in the history of the Russian Orthodox Church in the 17th century; a schism over opposing ritual practices and its bloody and barbaric consequences. The central figure is the Boyarina, an immensely wealthy and influential woman who basically picked the wrong side and was humiliated, imprisoned, tortured and executed as a result. The drama of Shchedrin's work lies not so much in the religious dogma that led to the events depicted, but the character of the protagonists, and their ability to endure extraordinary hardships for the sake of their faith. Musically, the piece is unusual and innovative; Shchedrin employs only three instrumentalists aside from the vocal soloists and choir, but through ingenious timbral sleight of hand (which he has employed before, for instance in the Carmen Ballet) produces the impression of a full range of orchestral forces from limited means. The choir is called upon to substitute for an orchestra, subtly suggesting (without musical quotation) Orthodox church music, in which only singing is permitted, no instruments. The cadences and melodic shapes of the soloists' vocal lines vividly evoke traditional Russian music; the tense, insistent drama is very characteristic of Shchedrin's best work, the idiom basically tonal, rich in harmony and polyphony, and propelled to its tragic conclusion by powerful dramatic flourishes. Live recording of world premiere performance, Oct. 30, 2006 in the Large Hall of the Moscow Conservatory. NOTE: this title is twice the price of an ordinary Wergo single disc. This is not a mistake (the euro price on the Wergo website is the same). The extra high price is presumably due to higher composer royalties for a new work and for the printing costs of the 88-page booklet, since Wergo, as an arm of Schott, the publisher, doesn't have to pay itself mechanical royalties (or does it?). English translation. Larisa Kostyuk (mezzo), Veronika Dzhioeva (soprano), Andrew Goodwin (tenor), Mikhail Davydov (bass), Kirill Soldatov (trumpet), Viktor Grishin (timpani), Mikhail Dunayev (percussion), Chamber Choir of the Moscow Conservatory; Boris Tevlin.