The Gadfly Suite, Op. 97a
3. Folk Feast (National Holiday)
5. Barrel-Organ Waltz
7. Introduction (Prelude)
Composer: Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975)
Performer: Ukraine National Symphony Orchestra
World Premiere: April 12, 1955 Leningrad TV
Directed by Alexander Feinzimmer (responsible over twenty years earlier for Prokofiev's Lieutenant Kije), The Gadfly (Ovod) was first shown on 12 April 1955. Based on a period swashbuckler (1897) by Ethel Lilian Voynich, a minor English novelist (1864-1960), the story is set in 19th century Austrian-occupied Italy and tells of a freedom-fighter (the illegitimate son of a cardinal). Known as the "Gadfly" because his "sting" so maddens the authorities, he goes through various adventures before eventually meeting a hero's death by firing squad. Inspiring one of Shostakovich's most attractive scores, the twelve movements ("fragments") of the suite, Op. 97a (compiled by Lev Atoumian), reflect not only the heroism and lyric quality of Gabrilovitch's screenplay but also the clever archaic, romantic and popular pastiche of Shostakovich's musical underlining. Anticipations of symphonies to come, allusions to Rossini and Tchaikovsky, are plentiful. But the rightly famous Romance for violin and orchestra (a descendent of the Meditation from Thais) is in a luscious, heady, lover's world of its own. Like the Nocturne (solo cello), its timing, climax and cadence touches poetic genius.