Rebirth of Bizet’s Carmen Suite – Facts & Figures

Facts & Figures

„I’m scared of Bizet“, was Dmitri Shostakovich’s answer, when prima ballerina Maya Plisetskaya turned for help with her lifelong dream: to create a CARMEN ballet. “You’ll be disappointed no matter what you write.”. The next composer to decline the nonsensical idea was Aram Khachaturyan. Composer no. 3 was found more accidentally: it was Rodion Shchedrin, who happened to be Plisetskaya’s husband. He wrote the entire score to the ballet’s movements and rhythms in only twenty days. Shchedrin called it “An arrangement of Bizet’s CARMEN for strings and percussion”. The composer, by his own admission, limited the orchestra to strings and percussion for two reasons: the strings compensate for the lack of human voices, and the percussion instruments underscore the choreography. And here comes the link to the actual album version: Igor Ponomarenko, an inspired alto Domra player and graduate from the St. Petersburg Conservatory, arranged – based on the model of Shchedrins percussion-driven transformation – a very special reading of the Carmen Suite for his „Double Duet“ MA.GR.IG.AL.. Ponomarenko’s arrangement of Bizet-Shchedrin’s “Carmen Suite” balances elegantly on the borderline. On one side, there are the indisputable elements of buffoonery, eccentricity, even a harmless hooliganism. But they are appropriate, since in many ways they obey the rules of the game, oriented on surprise and a lively theatrical response. On the other side, Ponomarenko’s deep love and admiration for CARMEN are obvious. His artistic conception in many ways is based on a game of refuting everyday ideas, and CARMEN is a solid artistic and elegant step in this direction. And his MA.GR.IG.AL companions, reinforced by one of the finest Russian percussionists (plus one) are all virtuoso musicians, making you almost forget, that there is a group of 5 individual perfectionists making music as if they were multi times as much. The present releases come from the 24 bit /96 khz stateof- the-art recordings out of the St. Petersburg Classics archive. They are carefully remastered by the prestigious Grammy award-winning b-sharp studio Berlin using the original source material.

Liner notes in English

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