Five Romances on Texts from “Krokodil” Magazine for Bass and Piano
Small Hall of the Leningrad Philharmonia with the participation of the composer. Soloist Y. Nesterenko.
1966, “Sovietskaya Muzyka”, No.1
The hand-written score is in the archive of the composer’s family.
“...Often the process of working calls into being an interest in a particular genre, the urge to try out one’s skills and, perhaps, to make something new... Recently I wrote five humorous sketches based on ordinary readers’ comments in the magazine ‘Krokodil’.”
Five Romances on Texts from Krokodil Magazine
For Bass and Piano, Op. 121
The 1960s in Dmitri Shostakovich’s oeuvre were marked by a whole series of satirical vocal cycles that started with the Satires cycle (‘Pictures of the Past’), op. 109, five romances for soprano on verses by Sasha Chёrny. This series was continued by the romances on texts from Krokodil magazine written by the composer at the beginning of September 1965. The composer took the texts for the first three items from the ‘Believe It or not’ column of the Krokodil magazine no. 24 (1782) of the same year, and the last two from the ‘Turning the Pages’ feature.
The romances on texts from Krokodil magazine were published for the first time in the January issue of Sovetskaya muzyka for 1966. They were performed on 28 may of the same year in the Small Hall of the Leningrad Philharmonic with the participation of soloist Yevgeni nesterenko and the author, who played the piano part. So nesterenko was the first performer of this cycle, just as he was of Shostako- vich’s subsequent vocal works intended for bass solo. He and pianist Yevgeni Shenderovich made the first recording of the romances.
In the west, bass robert osborne was one of the first to perform the cycle, singing it on 4 February 1985 in the concert hall of Boston university in russian (the piano part was performed by Howard Lubin). Later the Krokodil romances were performed and recorded at different times by russian and foreign performers. There are equirhythmic translations into English (Joan Pemberton Smith) and German (Jörg morgener).
The composition largely owes its concert and stage destiny to the initiative of the moscow Chamber music Theatre under the supervision of B.A. Pokrovsky, who staged the performance Let’s Play Shostakovich for the composer’s eightieth anniversary (1986) presenting his various vocal and instrumental works. The Krokodil cycle featured here in Boris Tishchenko’s orchestration. In this version, alexei mochalov recorded nos. 1 and 3 with the accompaniment of the Chamber music Theatre orchestra (conductor ana-toli Levin), and ten years later, Sergei Leiferkus recorded the entire cycle with the russian Philharmonic orchestra under the baton of Thomas Sanderling.
The performance staged by the Chamber Music Theatre for the composer’s 100th anniversary called A Century of DSCH (2006) was a renewed version of the same staging.
- Orchestra of the Moscow Chamber Musical Theater, artistic director B.A. Pokrovsky. Soloist: A. Mochalov Conductor: A. Levin 1995 // TRITON 17 008, 1996
- Gluboky P., Rassudova N. 1994 // SAISON RUSSE RUS 288 089, 1995
- Mazzola R., Harris P. 1997 // MGB CD 6145, 1997