I’ve listened to a lot of music for voice and piano and a lot of music by Shostakovich but it was only on listening to this new album by Margarita Gritskova and Maria Prinz that I realised that I had hardly heard any of Shostakovich’s art songs; except for a few with orchestra. So I was glad to discover the interesting collection on this CD. There are twenty songs taken from twelve different works. (most of DS’ song cycles seem to require multiple voice types. I guess labour was cheap in the USSR). The pieces are drawn from right across Shostakovich’s career from Op.4 to Op.145. The evolution of style is as clear as in his chamber or orchestral music.
Sven-Eric Bechtolf’s stagings of the Mozart/da Ponte operas in Salzburg concluded in 2015 with Le nozze di Figaro. I think it’s the most successful of the three. Bechtolf’s strengths lie in detailed direction of the action rather than bold conceptual statements and Nozze is probably the least in need of, and the least amenable to, the big Konzept. There aren’t any real dramaturgical problems to solve. It just works as written. I don’t think that’s so true for Don Giovanni or Così.