With this release Ondine presents two dramatic works by Dmitri Shostakovich, The Execution of Stepan Razin and the Zoya Suite, coupled with his Suite on Finnish Themes.
The Execution of Stepan Razin, premiered in Moscow in 1964, got a mixed reception. The execution scene and the final, tragic vision is simply spine-chilling: Stepan Razin's bloody head rolls to the ground and bursts out laughing at the Tsar. Capturing rich intonations and melodies of the text, the bass soloist and the chorus engage in a multi-layered dialogue of this very theatrical work.
The Zoya Suite is an orchestral suite from the music for the film Zoya (1944) a product of the war years, that tells of the cruel fate of 18-year-old partisan Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya fighting against the Germans. Shostakovich can well and truly be regarded as the father of Russian film music and also here, it's not only musical illustration, but he endowed the film with the drama of a classical symphony.
First performed in 2001, the Suite on Finnish Themes is a rather unknown work as being only discovered nearly four decades after Shostakovich died. The suite includes several arrangements of Finnish folk songs featuring a soprano and a tenor soloist.