OP3373. LADY MACBETH OF THE MTSENSK (Shostakovich), Recorded 1992, w.Myung-Whun Chung Cond. l'Opéra Ensemble; Maria Ewing, Aage Haugland, Philip Langridge, Sergei Larin, etc. 2-DG 437 511, Slipcase Edition w. Elaborate 120pp. Libretto-Brochure in Russian & English). Long out-of-print, Final Copy! - 028943751124
“It took the best part of 50 years for Shostakovich's most ambitious stage work to be recognised as one of the most original operas of the 20th century. The premiere of LADY MACBETH OF THE MTSENSK DISTRICT took place in Leningrad in January 1934 and was an immediate success with the critics and the public. But two years later, an editorial in Pravda condemned it as ‘muddle instead of music’ and accused it of pandering to bourgeois taste with its ‘fidgety, screaming, neurotic music’. The opera was withdrawn.
There's no doubt that it is the most provocative of all Shostakovich's works, not only in its depiction of sex and the extensive use of musical parody and expressionist dissonance, but in the sympathetic portrayal of Katerina, whose dull life leads her not only to take a lover but to murder her father-in-law and husband.
In the late 1950s Shostakovich, sensing an easing of censorship under Khruschev, revised the score. The authentic version did not appear on disc until 1978, when Mstislav Rostropovich resurrected it: Galina Vishnevskaya sang Katerina, and Nicolai Gedda her lover, Sergei. That performance was unrivalled until 1993, when Myung-Whun Chung conducted the Paris Opéra with Maria Ewing as Katerina for Deutsche Grammophon. Ewing is more alluring than the predatory Vishnevskaya, while Sergei Larin is a more ardent lover than Gedda. But though Chung's conducting is very fine, it lacks the galvanic force of Rostropovich, who knew he was making history with his recording.”
- Andrew Clements, THE GUARDIAN, 8 June, 2001