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This recording of New Babylon, one of Shostakovich’s most inventive and truly symphonic film scores, is the first complete recording of all the surviving music from the original ‘lost’ manuscript full score and the first to use five solo string players only, as conceived by the composer. A remarkable collage of marches, can-cans, carnival music, tumultuous rhythms and musical quotations, New Babylon bristles with witty dissonance and brassy ebullience, emphasising the film’s content rather than its visual surface. Mark Fitz-Gerald’s two previous Naxos world première recordings of Shostakovich’s film scores for Alone (8570316) and The Girlfriends (8572138) have been highly acclaimed.
Reel 1, General Sale: War - Death to the Prussians
Reel 2, Head over Heels: Paris
Reel 3, The Siege of Paris
Reel 4, 18th March 1871: On the morning of 18th March the workers still guarded their guns
Reel 5, Versailles against Paris: Paris has stood for centuries
Reel 6, The Barricade: The 49th day of defence
Reel 7, To the Firing Squad: There is peace and order in Paris
Reel 8, Death: The trial
Reel 8 (continued), Original ending
“Curdled can-cans; minced marches; wobbly waltzes; acrid quotes from Offenbach and the French Revolution: Shostakovich presses them together in a collage alternately dizzy and desolate, spiritedly performed by Mark Fitz-Gerald and the Basel Sinfonietta. Fitz-Gerald uses his own edition of the score, prepared after careful research. The joy of it lies in the light instrumentation for 18 players”
“this superbly performed rendition...enhanced by vividly realistic sound and extensive booklet notes from four Shostakovich specialists, makes the strongest case for a score that, in terms of the film medium, its composer equalled only rarely and which he arguably never surpassed.”
17th December 2011
“[The New Babylon] was the last gasp of this anything-goes era, and boasted a blistering score by the 22-year-old Shostakovich. So blistering, in fact, that nobody could perform it, and it was “lost” for decades...it is sardonic, brittle and laden with saucy Offenbach quotes. But two discs’ worth of dazzling freneticism is too much.”