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Mark Fitz-Gerald records Shostakovich’s music for Ovod (The Gadfly)

April 12, 2017

by Peter Bromley

Sessions for the world première recording of Shostakovich’s complete original music for the 1955 film Ovod (The Gadfly) with the Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz and the Bachchor Mainz under the British conductor Mark Fitz-Gerald, took place in Ludwigshafen, Germany during the penultimate week of March 2017. Set in mid-nineteenth-century Italy during a turbulent period of pre-Unification political unrest, The Gadfly is based on the Anglo-Irish writer Ethel Lilian Vonich’s eponymous novel about the young Arthur Burton, who is transformed from an innocent, God-fearing youth into an outspoken Revolutionary opposed to the political status quo, earning himself the proverbial nickname ‘The Gadfly’.

The film boasts a dazzling score, reconstructed by Fitz-Gerald from the original manuscript and the Russian film soundtrack as supervised by the composer. It calls for a large orchestra including church bells, an organ, two guitars and a mandolin, excluded from the Atovmyan suite which is disfigured by major restructuring, re-orchestration and cuts at the expense of the remarkable beauty, excitement and sheer stylistic variety of the original score. The recording also includes two solo organ works excluded from the film. Shostakovich wrote very little for the organ and this recording includes four tracks in which it features.

The Gadfly will be coupled with the three extant movements of The Counterplan and released in the Naxos Film Music Classics series on 8.573747 in November 2017. This is a major addition to Mr Fitz-Gerald’s ground-breaking series of film and other works by Shostakovich: New Babylon [8.572824-25] • Odna (Alone) [8.570316] • The Girlfriends • Rule Britannia • Salute to Spain • Fragment from Symphony No. 9 [8.572138] as well as his world première recording of Ernesto Halffter’s magnificent Carmen [8.572260].

SHOSTAKOVICH, D.: New Babylon (The)
8.572824-25

SHOSTAKOVICH: Odna (Alone)
8.570316

SHOSTAKOVICH, D.: Girl Friends / Rule, Britannia / Salute to Spain
8.572138

HALFFTER, E.: Carmen [film score]
8.572260

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