DESKTOP
TABLET (max. 1024px)
MOBILE (max. 640px)
Return to Top
Ludwig Van
Toronto Montreal

LEBRECHT LISTENS | The Bedbug: Young Shostakovich Lets Rip With Irreverence And Invention

By Norman Lebrecht on December 20, 2019

Shostakovich: The Bedbug / Love and Hate (Naxos)

Shostakovich: The Bedbug / Love and Hate (Naxos)

(★★★★☆)

🎧 Apple Music | Spotify | Naxos

Whenever I hear music by the young Dmitri Shostakovich, I am astonished all over again by his up-yours raw humour and ribaldry. This is a dazzling talent strutting his stuff in the first decade of a revolution when all seemed possible and available — jobs for all, free meals at work, free love. None foresaw that Stalin would soon crush the spark and the spirit out of the cultural side of the revolution.

The two unexpected world premieres on this release are compelling. The Bedbug was a comedy written by the poet Vladimir Mayakovsky, for which Shostakovich wrote incidental music in 1928-9 at the behest of the theatre director Vsevolod Meyerhold, whom the young composer revered. Rather than being trapped between two strong personalities, Shostakovich, just 23, let rip with wild irreverence and invention. This is Hindemith in a torn t-shirt, Kurt Weill on coke, and more than a dirty dash of Ernst Krenek, all mixed into a borscht that could not be more Russian and bloody rude.

The trombones should get overtime pay and there’s an instrument that sounds eerily like a Thereminovox. It could hardly be more cutting edge for the late 1920s or more cosmopolitan, yet the composer’s voice is never lost in his welter of influencers. The excellent orchestra is the Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz, and the Russian-singing chorus is from Mannheim.

The companion piece is music for a 1935 Soviet film, Love and Hate. Pieced together from fragments by the conductor Mark Fitz-Gerald, the score is a semi-house-trained Bedbug, the music looking over its own shoulder for approval. The next year Stalin cracked down on Shostakovich. The rest is history. This is a vital link in that history.

To read more from Norman Lebrecht, follow him on Slippedisc.com.

Norman Lebrecht’s new book Genius and Anxiety is available January 14, 2020. Pre-order here.

#LUDWIGVAN

Want more updates on classical music and opera news and reviews? Follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter for all the latest.

Norman Lebrecht

Norman Lebrecht is one of the most widely-read commentators on music, culture and cultural politics. He is a regular presenter on BBC Radio 3 and a contributor to the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Standpoint, Sinfini and other publications. His blog, Slipped Disc, is among the most widely read cultural sites online, breaking exclusive stories and campaigning against human abuse and acts of injustice in the cultural industries.

Norman Lebrecht

Norman Lebrecht is one of the most widely-read commentators on music, culture and cultural politics. He is a regular presenter on BBC Radio 3 and a contributor to the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Standpoint, Sinfini and other publications. His blog, Slipped Disc, is among the most widely read cultural sites online, breaking exclusive stories and campaigning against human abuse and acts of injustice in the cultural industries.
Share this article
lv_toronto_banner_high_590x300
comments powered by Disqus

Ludwig Van Toronto

LEBRECHT LISTENS | John Williams’ No-Star Wars

By Norman Lebrecht on September 4, 2020

'John Williams in Vienna' is a first — a record that resists categorisation, where one star would be an insult, two stars a gross over-estimation.
Read the full story Comments
Share this article
lv_toronto_banner_high_590x300

LEBRECHT LISTENS | Leó Weiner Ought To Be On Every Conductor’s Encore List

By Norman Lebrecht on September 25, 2020

A poet of timelessness, Hungarian composer Leó Weiner ought to be on every conductor’s encore list.
Read the full story Comments
Share this article

SCRUTINY| Live Theatre Returns With A Brilliant Performance of ‘Alphonse’ In Dufferin Grove Park

By Paula Citron on August 28, 2020

Kaleb Alexander is brilliant in Wajdi Mouawad's 'Alphonse' - the first live theatre show in Toronto since the COVID lockdown.
Read the full story Comments
Share this article
lv_toronto_banner_low_590x300
lv_toronto_ssb_atf_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_high_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_mid_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_low_300x300
lv_toronto_tsb_high_300x700
lv_toronto_tsb_low_300x700
lv_toronto_ssb_atf_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_high_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_mid_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_low_300x300
lv_toronto_tsb_high_300x700
lv_toronto_tsb_low_300x700

We have detected that you are using an adblocking plugin in your browser.

The revenue we earn by the advertisements is used to manage this website. Please whitelist our website in your adblocking plugin.