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SIG 052
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SIG 052

Shostakovich - Hamlet / King Lear

The Classical Shop
release date: June 2007

Originally recorded in 2007


City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Mark Elder

David Wilson-Johnson


Louise Winter

mezzo soprano

Igor Khokhlovin


Luba Stuchevskaya



Symphony Hall, Birmingham

13-15 Jun 1994


Stephen Johns


Mike Hatch

Record Label


Orchestral & Concertos

Total Time - 72:38
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Hamlet Op.32

  1932 Production World Premiere Recording  
  Act I  
1 i. Prelude and night patrol 3:08
  ii. Shepherd's horn  
2 i. Funeral March 2:04
  ii. Exit of the King and Queen  
3 Dinner Music 1:37
4 i. Flourish and dance music 2:35
  ii. Finale of Act I  
5 i. Hamlet and the small boys walking past 0:59
  ii. Ophelia and Polonius' gallop  
6 Hamlet and Rosencrantz's scene 0:44
7 i. The actors' arrival 0:44
  ii. Exit of Polonius, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern  
8 Rosencrantz and Guildenstern's dialogue 0:51
9 The Hunt 1:48
10 The guests' entrance 1:16
11 The tuning of the instruments* 0:56
12 Prelude 0:40
13 Love scene of the Player-King and Player-Queen 0:28
14 i. The poisoner's entrance 1:28
  ii. Poisoning music  
  iii. The poisoner's exit  
  iv. Episode after the poisoner's exit  
15 i. 'And thou shalt life...' 2:06
  ii. 'Nor earth to me give food...'  
  iii. 'To you forever I give my love...'  
  iv. 'My spirits grow dull...'  
16 i. Scene with a recorder 0:47
  ii. Episode after the scene with a recorder  
17 Pantomime 1:05
18 i. Hamlet carries off the body of Polonius (I) 1:16
  ii. Hamlet carries off the body of Polonius (II) *  
19 i. The King distracts the Queen 1:01
  ii. Fight  
20 i. The King is brought on 1:37
  ii. Claudius' monologue  
21 Fortinbras; trumpet calls 0:38
22 The Feast 1:33
23 Romance sung at the feast* 1:33
24 Can-can 1:14
25 Ophelia's ditty 1:43
26 Lullaby 1:23
27 i. Introduction to the graveyard scene * 1:22
  ii. Gravedigger's song  
28 i. The beggars passing by* 3:29
  ii. Requiem  
29 i. Joust 2:37
  ii. Flourish  
  iii. Quick fight  
  iv. Slow fight  
  v. The end of the joust  
30 Fortinbras' march 2:01

Hamlet (1954 Production)

31 Gigue 1:37
32 Finale 1:29

King Lear Op.58a (1941 Production)

33 Prelude and Cordelia's ballad 4:44
34 The return from the hunt 0:49

The Fool's ten songs

35 i. He who decides... 1:35
  ii. 2. Fools had ne'er less grace in a year  
  iii. 3. He that keeps nor crust nor crumb  
36 i. 4. The hedge-sparrow fed the cuckoo so long 1:21
  ii. 5. Fathers that wear rags...  
37 i. 6. When priests are more in word than matter 2:41
  ii. 7. A fox when one has caught her  
  iii. 8. The cod piece that will house...  
38 i. 9. He that has and a tiny little wit 2:49
  ii. 10. That sir which serves and seeks for gain  
39 Finale of Act I 1:25
40 The approach of the storm 1:29
41 The scene of the heath 2:03
42 The blinding of Gloucester 0:59
43 i. The military encampment 2:45
  ii. Fanfares  
44 March 2:09

Signum Records are delighted to present the second recording on SignumClassics of the CBSO, under the direction of Mark Elder.

In his youth Shostakovich devoted much time and energy to composing for the theatre and the cinema, writing for an astonishing variety of movies, political plays, satires, the music-hall and the ballet.

The music for Nikolai Akimov’s outrageous and scandalous production of Hamlet was composed in the winter of 1931 – 1932. Akimov had decided that tragedy was irrelevant to the modern Soviet audience, and therefore presented the play as a satirical farce in which the play was turned up-side-down, by reversing all the usual assumptions about the plot and how it should be acted. The alterations to Shakespeare’s work are reflected in the titles of several of Shostakovich’s numbers. He was asked to provide music for scenes that Shakespeare only refers to but which Akimov insisted on representing on stage, for example the feast where "funeral baked meats did coldly furnish forth the marriage tables". The overall character of Shostakovich’s music is often abrasive and satirical, and flippant just where we would expect the music to be more serious. There are also some funny moments, with particular sharp parodies of various well-known musico-theatrical clichés.

In 1954 Kozintsev had also attempted to direct a staged version of Hamlet. For this occasion he decided to reuse music that Shostakovich had already written for him to use in a staged production of King Lear in 1941. All that Kozintsev asked Shostakovich to add for the 1954 Hamlet were a Gigue and a Finale, both of which are included on this recording as an appendix to the music for Akimov’s 1932 production.

The music that Shostakovich wrote for Kozintsev’s 1941 King Lear production inhabits a strange and transitional world, halfway between the bright and brilliant sarcasm of the music for Akimov’s Hamlet of ten years earlier and the more soberly functional manner of his post-war theatrical music. Gone is most of the cheekiness, the fondness for the experimental and the grotesque. There is much in this often oppressively dark music that is characteristic of what was by now Shostakovich’s public symphonic manner.

Perhaps the most powerful and unusual part of the score is the bizarre cycle of Fool’s songs, with which the Fool mocks the mistakes of his master, the King, in the course of the first three Acts. The music of these songs is as strange and quirky as the words they set. Taken as a whole, these ten songs make up a miniature cycle of sourly absurd, almost expressionistic outbursts for voice and orchestra. They seem to form a whole in themselves, standing apart from

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