SHCHEDRIN
The Left-Hander
[digital download]

Disc of the Week BBC Radio 3 CD Review

Performance ****½ Sonics ****½ SA-CD.net

Performance **** Recording **** BBC Music Magazine

  • Disc of the Week ‘This recording is from the first staged performances at the Mariinsky in July 2013 and it fizzes with energy… I enjoyed this hugely.’ BBC Radio 3 CD Review

    ****½ Performance ****½ Sonics ‘The large cast is a fine one led by tenor Andrei Popov who sings the taxing title role of the Left-Hander with great conviction whilst the Flea of coloratura soprano Kristina Alieva is both alluring and touching… The sound is vivid with plenty of ambient information from the surround speakers and it accurately captures the atmosphere of the live event… Admirers of Shchedrin's music need not hesitate.’ SA-CD.net

    Performance **** Recording **** 'Shchedrin's scoring is inventive and colourful - folk instruments underline the Slavic nostalgia - and his vocal lines always singable. Leading the characteristically strong Mariinsky forces, Kristina Alieva entertains with her coloratura as the ornamental insect, and in the title role the lyric tenor Andrei Popov gives a touching performance of a character forced out of his comfort zone.' BBC Music Magazine

    **** ‘Andrei Popov gives way to joy in the title role, passing by all states, excitement to dejection. The Flea is a small mechanical doll alla Offenbach, a light coloratura of course, much applauded after her numbers (Kristina Alieva) - the beautiful lyric soprano Maria Maksakova as Princess Charlotte deserved much applause.’ Diapason

    **** ‘Shchedrin’s new opera The Left-Hander is imaginative, playful and a fine portrayal of the British and the Russians. The orchestral playing is superb. The sound recording is excellent.’ Pizzicato

    Sound Quality **** Interpretation *** ‘In the title role of the left-hander Andrei Popov leaves a lasting impression… As the steel flea Kristina Alieva is an undisputed crowd favourite with a sparkling clean coloratura and stratospheric tones.’ Klassik.com

    *** ‘Listening is seductive: all opera forms are exploited: recitatives, arias, cries, choruses, on an orchestral background of a robust texture and a lively energetic drive.’ Classica

    The Left-Hander is a real masterpiece and stuffed full of so many good things and excellent performances that it’s hard to point out much in the way of highlights… All roles are played with character and distinction, and the orchestra and chorus sound lively and alertly enthusiastic… The SACD recording is very fine, the booklet impeccably presented.’ MusicWeb International

    ‘Once again Shchedrin underlines that he is currently one of the leading Russian musical dramatists. Recorded with the richly gifted Gergiev on the podium in July 2013… Worth discovering!’ Der Neue Merker

    ‘The singers, powerful and very colourful, contribute to the forceful impact of this St. Petersburg production… Andrei Popov plays, thanks to his light tenor agility, a very spiritual and spontaneous Left-Hander… It is certainly one of the key roles of this production, the second being that of the miniature mechanical flea for which dramatic soprano Kristina Alieva gives a magnificent musical consistency.’ Avant Scène Opéra

    ‘The singing is very excellent, especially in the roles of Levsha as portrayed by Andrei Popov, and the Flea, sung by the utterly spectacular Kristina Alieva…her performance, both musically and dramatically, is simply stunning… If you're a Shchedrin admirer or someone interested in contemporary opera, this release is eminently worth your attention.’ Classical.net

    Levsha is a company piece, with several well-characterized minor roles, all performed here with spirit and conviction. Outstanding are Edward Tsanga’s Ataman Platov… and Andrey Popov as the Left-Hander… To say that the young Kristina Alieva’s brilliant coloratura skips and jumps make one want to scratch is meant as the highest compliment… Levsha’s mixture of musical invention, humour and compassion makes it a thoroughly appealing work.’ Opera

    ‘There are moments of tender beauty, some of that sardonic violence and even some humorous orchestrations to enjoy… Valery Gergiev maintains his status as one of Russia’s greatest living conductors and a sound advocate of contemporary theater and orchestral scores… For those already familiar with Rodion Shchedrin this is a necessary addition. The sound quality and packaging from Mariinsky’s own label and engineers is superb.’ Audiophile Audition

    ‘The performance surely must be definitive. Audio is stunning, with the colorful octal effects captured with uncommon clarity and impact… A very classy presentation of an unusual work.‘
    Classical CD Review

    ‘Valery Gergiev performs skillfully through the soundscapes… dazzling orchestral sound.’
    Das Opernglas

    ‘The opera has made a huge impression and was unconditionally accepted by the audience.’
    Blog à la Russe

    ‘Shchedrin parses and sets the text very cleverly, with lively and often humorous orchestration, folkish when needed… Levsha is definitely an ensemble piece best suited to a company like the Mariinsky, with its expert chorus and strongly enacted minor parts… Kristina Alieva’s precise high coloratura does excellent work in the role of the Flea, winning applause for her Olympia-like vocal flights.’ Opera News

    ‘In Valery Gergiev, this opera has found the ideal man. In the pit, the conductor excels once again to give substance to the music. His perfect knowledge of Russian repertoire as well as the composer's work allows him to oscillate between tragedy and comedy… In addition, the voices are great, beginning with Andrei Popov, a great Tula, the illiterate craftsman and famous left-hander.’ Hebdoscope

    ‘Valery Gergiev conducts a sharp performance, one fully alert to the satires that enmesh the work. The Flea itself is depicted by a nimble coloratura, Kristina Alieva, and its maker… is affectingly sung by Andrey Popov. Vladimir Moroz sings eloquently as both Tsars, Alexander I and Nicholas I, strongly supported by Edward Tsanga as the Ataman (Commander) Platov.’ Gramophone

    ‘I found the music rather delightful in places… The music for the Singing Flea is some of the cleverest and most interesting in the opera, high coloratura lines sung sotto voce which make them all the more difficult.’ Fanfare

    *** ‘A useful addition to the Shchedrin catalogue.’ The Telegraph

    ‘A breath-taking experience. Simply spectacular.'
    Classica, Bertrand Dermoncourt and Stéphane Friédérich

£14.99

Specially written for Gergiev on the occasion of his 60th birthday, Rodion Shchedrin’s The Left-Hander is a comedy of Russians and Englishmen, new technology, old traditions, and strong drink. The premiere was given by the Mariinsky Opera in St Petersburg in July 2013.

Rodion Shchedrin is one of music’s greatest living humourists, and his work is laced with pitch-black irony and deadpan wit. Based on Nikolai Leskov’s classical satirical novella of 1881, The Tale of Cross-Eyed Lefty From Tula and the Steel FleaThe Left-Hander is a gloriously wry exploration of Russia’s relationship with the West in general and England in particular.

Mariinsky label recordings are made available by LSO Live
We are grateful to Yoko Ceschina for her generous support

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