DENISOV:  Music for Films  A Nameless Star.  An Ideal Husband.  Turtle Tortilla.  (Orchestral suites arranged by Youri Kasparov)
Orchestre de la CinÈmatographie Russe/Serguei Skripka, cond.

LE CHANT DU MONDE RUS 288172 (F) (DDD) TT:  67:23

Edison Denisov (1929-1996) was born in Siberia, and studied mathematics before switching to music composition at the Moscow Conservatory.  He was another Soviet avant-garde composer who defied official State directives; his music was banned from being played or published.   His representation in the current Schwann/Opus is primarily chamber music including one of his best-known works, Sun of the Incas for Soprano and Chamber Orchestra composed in 1964.  This was championed by Bruno Maderna and Pierre Boulez, and marked the beginning of  Denisov's personal style.  The success of Sun of the Incas brought him international recognition.  His catalog  includes two operas, a ballet, two symphonies for large orchestra, two oratorios, more than fifteen concertos for various instruments and a large quantity of chamber music.

Denisov was a connoisseur of international cinema and wrote music for more than sixty films, both fiction and documentaries. This CD is the first recording of any of his music for movies, three suites adapted by Youri Kasparov who was an advanced student of the composer.  The first movie is A Nameless Star from 1978, a sad story of a high-society woman who, after arguing with her husband,  has a brief affair with a romantic young schoolmaster only to return to her husband.  The "star theme" appears throughout, along with an enchanting waltz and contrasting lively episodes.  Based on Oscar Wilde's famous play, An Ideal Husband dates from 1980.  For this Denisov's score shows strong influences of jazz,including a Scott Joplinesque rag as well as an extended episode of exquisite love music.  Turtle Tortilla is the earliest of the three suites, dating from 1962, described as "a rather remote Russian version of Pinocchio."  Jazz again shows its influence, with one Boogie-woogie section, an incredibly banal Les Gangsters movement -- and several delectable light-hearted interludes.  Most of this music is highly entertaining if not achieving the level of Shostakovich's film music.

The small-sounding Russian orchestra plays very well indeed, and engineers have provided a rather dry, super-clear sound.  The premium price may keep some collectors from acquiring this unusual CD of premiere film music recordings.

R.E.B. (Jan. 2001)