This timely reissue now makes the perfect companion to the recent Naxos release of Shostakovich’s 1964 Hamlet film score (reviewed July 2004). The music featured here accompanied a bizarre 1932 Moscow staging, which with its anti-Shakespearean creations of an overweight, shamming Hamlet and an inebriated Ophelia evidently told a different story from Kozintsev’s overwhelmingly tragic film. What we hear of Shostakovich’s contribution from Mark Elder and company -every bar of it, thanks to several Schnittke-esque arrangements by Gerard McBurney underlines the interpretation’s strip-cartoon perversity, especially in Louise Winter’s idiomatic delivery of Ophelia’s tipsy cabaret waltz. Yet Elder also evocatively underlines how many of Shostakovich’s music-hall numbers take place in shadow-casting candlelight.
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