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King-Lear-1970-001Now this is rather different.

Back in 2003, in Ferrara, the Mahler Chamber Orchestra and the Swedish Radio Choir held a curious concert. Grigorij Kozintsev‘s 1970 Russian King Lear was shown on a screen, while the orchestra, conducted by Claudio Abbado, performed a combination of Shostakovich‘s soundtrack and incidental music for a 1940 production of the play.

The movie is very intense, with its stark black and white photography, much tightened action and harsh, cold light. More than a little Seventish, but very effective, on the whole. Shostakovich’s rich, haunting music gives an eerie feel to the tale of the mad king. I cannot speak Russian, so I can say nothing for Boris Pasternak‘s translation – and I’m afraid the subtitles are in Italian – but if you are at all familiar with Shakespeare’s play, it should be easy enough to follow.

As I said, it makes for a rather different Shakespearean experience, but well worth a try.

You can find Kozintsev and Shostakovich’s King Lear here.