Sergei Leiferkus: The complete “5 songs from the journal “Krokodil” Op. 121″ (Shostakovich)

5 songs from the journal “Krokodil (Op. 121)”
I. Sobstvennorucnoye pokazaniye 00:00
II. Trudnoispolnimoye zelaniye 04:05
III. Blagorazumiye 05:24
IV. Irinka 06:35
V. Crezmernïy vostorg 07:57

Shostakovich, Dmitri (1906-75) -composer
(Orchestrated by Boris Tishchenko)
Sergei Leiferkus -baritone
Thomas Sanderling -conductor
Russian Philharmonic Orchestra

Playlist: The art of Russian song: Glinka, Mussorgsky, Rachmaninov, Tchaikovsky…:

In early September 1965 Shostakovich took up the popular humor magazine Krokodil and set to music five letters from it. The Five Songs on texts from the Periodical Krokodil, for bass and piano, Op. 121, are among the most humorous — and ludicrous — pieces of music Shostakovich ever composed.
The first, “Manual Demonstration,” is a ponderous description of a bus driver being beaten by a passenger who did not like the driver’s manner (as the passenger explains it, “I am sixty-seven and had not yet had my breakfast that morning.”) Shostakovich’s music has the nimble grace of a rhinoceros. The second, “A Difficult Request,” is a devious waltz; the piano accompanies chromatically while a bachelor requests that he find a wife “who would feed me without asking for money.” The third, “A Reasonable Attitude,” starts with the infamous Dies Irae theme accompanying the dry complaint of a fellow who was beaten by a hooligan but prefers not to report it to the police – “preferring to content myself with the blows already received.” Shostakovich’s wife, Irina, objected strenuously to the fourth song, “Irinka and the Cowherd,” a light-fingered song of lust, because she was afraid that listeners would identify her with the character of the title. The fifth and final song, “Excessive Enthusiasm,” is a hymnic love song to a fresh-baked loaf of bread still smelling of the “gasoline-soaked hands of the harvesters.”
Interestingly, the Five Songs on texts from the Periodical Krokodil were premiered at a concert on May 28, 1966, celebrating Shostakovich’s 60th birthday. The program consisted of Preface to the Complete Collection of My Work and Thoughts, Op. 123, the Five Romances, the Eleventh String Quartet, Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 66” and Burns’ “Jenny” from the Four Pushkin Romances, Op. 42, and the Five Satires, Op. 109. Shostakovich himself accompanied all the songs but it proved to be the last time he appeared in public as a performer. After midnight, he suffered a heart attack and was taken to the Sverdlov Hospital.


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