Who could resist the attractions promised on posters for the new show at Leningrad's Music Hall in the October 1931? In his one and only venture into the realm of music hall, 25-year-old Dmitri Shostakovich collaborated with the stars of Leningrad's circus and variety stage, including the hottest Soviet jazzman-entertainer of the period, Leonid Utyosov, and his signature "theatrical" jazz band.
Shostakovich provided the gallops, waltzes, dances and ditties to animate this outrageous theatrical entertainment, which spotlighted the antics of a trained German shepherd, jugglers, clowns, aerial acrobats, horseback riding, puppets, singers and stand-up comics among other attractions. And, in the spirit of the times, the show was dedicated not simply to dazzling spectacle and thrilling diversions but also, incredibly, to the lofty purpose of educating the population in civil defense preparedness!
Now, in a sparkling orchestration of the music from Shostakovich's Hypothetically Murdered (based on surviving sketches and annotations) Gerard McBurney has revived and recaptured the merriment and humor of Shostakovich's original score, full of the irresistible tunefulness and irreverent wit of his youthful years.