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Richard Whitehouse, March 2018

Fitz-Gerald secures a lively response from his Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie forces, with the various guitar and mandolin solos idiomatically taken, while Elke Voelker’s organ contributions are recorded with necessary ambient space. Those who know The Gadfly from the suite will find these frequently stripped-down orchestrations of the original film-score an unexpected pleasure. The sound is unexceptionally fine, while John Riley’s booklet notes are detailed and informative.

Is it recommended?

Yes. This is a welcome act of restoration for film-music almost entirely known in a version approved though not undertaken by the composer. Hopefully this series will be continued… © 2018 Read complete review

David Gutman
Gramophone, February 2018

That The Gadfly (1955) is both tuneful and engaging has sometimes been taken to reflect Shostakovich’s improved political situation following the death of Stalin. In reality it is the best evidence for the autonomy of his art in that its composition coincided with a personal crisis in his family life.

…Fitz-Gerald secures stylish, thoroughly attentive playing… © 2018 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone

Film Music: The Neglected Art, January 2018

At last a complete recording thanks to the tireless work of Mark Fitz-Gerald who reconstructed the work from the original manuscripts do we get to hear the organ, guitars, church bells, and a mandolin all of which were not included in the Atovmian suite.

I can recommend this release to Shostakovich lovers, soundtrack fans, and classical music people. © 2018 Film Music: The Neglected Art Read complete review

Nick Barnard
MusicWeb International, December 2017

For avid admirers of Shostakovich and his film music, this is a very welcome, valuable and fascinating release. It is the third such reconstruction of a complete film score undertaken by Mark Fitz-Gerald released by Naxos and the diligence and rigour of his work is shown by the fact that these newly edited scores have been included in the definitive published complete edition of the composer’s works.

…this is a recording valuable for filling in another small piece of the jigsaw that was Shostakovich’s creative life. By no means vital but certainly fascinating and fun. © 2017 MusicWeb International Read complete review

Barry Forshaw
Classical CD Choice, December 2017

Most Shostakovich admirers will be familiar with the suite from his film score The Gadfly, and like most film music by the composer—at least that which has been widely recorded—it’s music with an intriguing mix of styles but with an emphasis on lighter, more accessible compositional techniques. Finally, however, we have a chance to hear the entire score. Given the best possible advocacy by the Bachchor Mainz and the Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz, under Mark Fitz-Gerald  set in mid-nineteenth-century Italy during a turbulent period of pre-unification political unrest, The Gadfly drew from Shostakovich one of his most popular film scores, heard hitherto on record only in the version arranged and re-orchestrated by Levon Atovmian. This recording presents the full, original score for the first time, as closely as possible to Shostakovich’s original conception. Reconstructed by Mark Fitz-Gerald from the original manuscript and the Russian film soundtrack, it calls for a large orchestra including church bells, an organ, two guitars and a mandolin, all excluded from the Atovmian suite. The excerpts from The Counterplan, which marked the fifteenth anniversary of the 1917 Revolution, include the infectious hit-tune The Song of the Counterplan. © 2017 Classical CD Choice

Daniel Jaffé
BBC Music Magazine, December 2017

Having recorded vibrant accounts of meticulously restored film scores by Shostakovich, such as new Babylon and Alone, Mark Fitz-Gerald now reaches one of the most familiar by that composer. Usually recorded in the form of Lev Atovmian’s 12-movement suite, The Gadfly (1955), illustrating a romanticised story set during Italy’s Risorgimento, is here restored to the more subtle and varied colours of Shostakovich’s original orchestration. One can hear more clearly the contrasts between the music of the bourgeoisie, the church, and of the people. Several diegetic cues, such as the brief ‘Folk Dance: Tarantella’ for mandolin, flute and clapping, enhance the score’s Italian flavour. © 2017 BBC Music Magazine

Neil Fisher
The Times (London), December 2017

“What choice do I have? I have to earn a living.” This was Shostakovich, at his usual level of cheer, on scoring The Gadfly, the 1955 Soviet film epic directed by Alexander Faintzimmer, a job the composer took after Khachaturian dropped out. The movie was a huge hit, but Shostakovich’s contribution, perhaps understandably, wasn’t the headline attraction for most Russian cinemagoers (more than 39 million tickets were sold).

Shostakovich turned some of the material into a short suite, but only now, thanks to great work by Mark Fitz-Gerald, all 29 sections have been recorded by the Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz under Fitz-Gerald’s baton. The painstaking task has involved preparing original manuscripts and in some instances transcribing from ear because the notated scores have been lost. And now we get guitars, an organ and church bells—all excised from the suite for reasons of practicality.

The result isn’t going to cause earthquakes in the musical world: Shostakovich was a gun for hire, writing a patchwork score with short descriptive sections rather than long interludes or set pieces à la Bernard Herrmann or Erich Korngold. Still, even if Shostakovich privately felt it was small beer, his know-how as a craftsman and a colourist is to the fore. © 2017 The Times (London)

Records International, December 2017

The Gadfly drew from Shostakovich one of his most dazzling and popular film scores, heard hitherto on record only in a suite arranged and reorchestrated by Levon Atovmian. This recording presents the full, original score for the first time, as close as possible to Shostakovich’s original conception. Reconstructed by Mark Fitz-Gerald from the original manuscript and the Russian film soundtrack, it calls for a large orchestra including church bells, an organ, two guitars and a mandolin, all excluded from the Atovmian suite. © 2017 Records International

Lark Reviews, November 2017

The Gadfly is best remembered today for the longer arrangement of Youth though the score as reconstructed here has a good deal of music which is equally impressive. It also draws on the full orchestral resources Shostakovich required for the film—including church bells, organ, guitars and mandolin—which are absent from the normal orchestral suite. There is also an added bonus in the inclusion of The Song of the Counterplan from the score of that name. © 2017 Lark Reviews

Fiona Maddocks
The Observer (London), November 2017

This is a real novelty, celebrating Shostakovich’s life-long devotion to writing film music. His orchestral concert work The Gadfly Suite, Op 97a, from his score of the 1955 film, was assembled by fellow Soviet composer Levon Atovmyan. Much was cut and forgotten. The full, eclectic soundtrack has now been reconstructed, with a fantastic display of serious scholarship, passion and practical musicianship by Mark Fitz-Gerald: all 29 sections, complete with a snatch of Bach’s B minor Mass, either from Shostakovich’s original manuscript or taken down by ear from the film (which sold more than 39m tickets and was based on the novel by Ethel Voynich). A lively curiosity, to be sure. © 2017 The Observer (London)

David Mellor
Classic FM, November 2017

Mark Fitz-Gerald, London trained, is an expert on the reconstruction and performance of complete film scores. And he does really well here with fine work from the German Philharmonic Rheinland-Pfalz. © 2017 Classic FM Read complete review

David Denton
David's Review Corner, November 2017

This is the world premiere recording of the complete music Shostakovich wrote for the film, The Gadfly, now reconstructed from his original score by Mark Fitz-Gerald. It was the composer’s own wish that Levon Atovmyan made a suite for use in the concert hall, but in so doing he changed the order in which the music appeared in the film and linked short sections together with his own music. Then, to make it even more attractive to orchestras, he re-orchestrated Shostakovich’s score leaving out some instruments and deleting the use of a chorus. Looking at it from Atovmian’s point of view, he had created a short suite of twelve sections, and his work entered into the composer’s official output and was often performed in its English translation, The Gadfly. Now, for the first time, the original film score has resurfaced in a reconstruction by the musicologist and conductor, Mark Fitz-Gerald. By the composer’s own admission it had been written in 1955 purely for much needed income, and he simply translated the film’s action into descriptive music. In the end it consisted of twenty-nine ‘bits and pieces’, mostly quite short, the total score lasting around fifty minutes. The story was set in mid-nineteenth-century Italy where a love story become interwoven into the political scene that surrounds them, the idealist and patriot, Arthur, one of the two lovers—who became known as Ovod (The Gadfly)—eventually executed by those opposed to Italian independence. To flesh out his score, Atovmian used sections as if it were thematic material that he could then repeat, the romantic violin solo, that comes early in the film, becoming, in his hands, one of Shostakovich’s most famous melodies. Two sections that were never used in the film are here added as ‘additional tracks’. The disc is completed by three tracks from the 1933 film, The Counterplan, used to celebrate the fifteenth anniversary of the Russian Revolution. Using the tempos heard in the film of The Gad-fly, Fitz-Gerald obtains committed and fine playing from the Rheinland-Pfalz orchestra in a 2017 German radio recording. © 2017 David’s Review Corner

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