Classical New Release: 'Dmitri Shostakovich: "The Gadfly"'

Jan 16, 2018

Dmitri Shostakovich composed the score to the Soviet film “The Gadfly” in 1955. The complete score to the film has just been released for the first time.


The Gadfly” is based on a novel of the same name by Ethel Voynich. It tells the tale of the 19th-century Italian struggle for Independence. Although the music has become some of Shostakovich’s most famous, he was actually the second choice to score the film: he only stepped in after Aram Khatchaturian had to drop out due to illness.


Soon after the release of “The Gadfly” in 1955, Shostakovich asked Levon Atovmian to create a concert suite of themes from the film. That suite is frequently performed by orchestras today, and the most famous part is the Romance and its iconic violin solo.


Mark Fitz-Gerald painstakingly reconstructed the entire score of the film. Of the 29 sections of music included on this album, Fitz-Gerald was able to find published scores for 19 parts. For the remaining sections, he either worked from unpublished drafts in Shostakovich’s handwriting or else transcribed the music by listening to the film itself.


Listeners familiar with the Romance (called “Youth” in the score) will hear slightly different notes in the violin solo than they are used to hearing. It turns out that Atovmian made a mistake when arranging the music for the concert suite. Fitz-Gerald restored the correct notes from the score.


The liner notes include Fitz-Gerald’s account of how he reconstructed the score. He conducts the German State Orchestra of Rhineland-Pfalz on the album.


The album also contains a couple of cues from a much earlier Shostakovich score, the 1932 film “The Counterplan.”