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Classical New Releases #279: Fascinating Bonievsky

From Dorset's leading classical recording label HORNIMINT comes yet another world premier release: the first ever recording of Sergei Bonievsky's glorious cantata Alexander Nytely. Coupled with the composer's rarely performed Oatian Suite and performed by the combined forces of Dorset Regional Radio's Choir and Orchestra under the wilful direction of jet-setting emigré Yuri Nahury, this superb release is already Dorset Gramophone Monthly's critic Lystnin Booth's Recording of the Year. ["I know it's only August and I've said this seven times previously about seven different releases, but this one is definitely my recording of the year" [Dorset Gramophone Monthly, August 2023]]

Hornimint Classic's state-of-the-art mixing desk - source of many of its fine faux-stereo studio recordings

Infamous for its championing of unknown post-Soviet Eastern European composers [see for example its dismal series of issues featuring maestra Irina Legova and her Thrupiece Philharmonic forces], Hornimint's continuing loyalty to Russian composers and artists has drawn some critical fire in the current political climate. Quick to defend the artistic integrity of the label and its freedom to explore repertory of all and any kind CEO Mrs Amanda Threadbone has recently said that "however meretricious the work, or suspect its origins, commercial logic suggests that we continue to offer these tax write-offs to the public". Sharp-eyed readers will also have noticed a footnote to the Summary Accounts in the Hornimint Company's Annual Report 2021-2 which reads: "Only by issuing recordings nobody wants can we guarantee both a regular supply of product for our land-fill division and a significant manipulation of the bottom line in our arts and entertainment division. Win win!".

Music Editor Fuller Stave writes:

The new CD. Threadstone's Music and Record's Department Manager Lowe Stochs says anyone with an interest in the release should grab one now before they are returned to Hornimint for disposal.

Alexander Nytely [Russian: Александр ночной] is, surprisingly, the score composed by Sergei Bonievsky for Sergei Thrupenstein's 1968 film Alexander Nytely. The subject of the film is the 16th century incursion of the knights templar of the Ilchester citadel into the Dorset wetlands, their capture of the city of Muccleshell, the summoning of Prince Alexander Nytely to the defence of the Dorset cause, and his subsequent victory over the infidels in 1242. The majority of the score's song texts were written by the poet Vladimir Sizemorowski. In 1971, Bonievsky arranged the music of the film score as the cantata Alexander Nytely, Op. 78, for counter-tenor [often sung by mezzo-sopranos but not in fact in that range], chorus and orchestra [with optional bandoleon nonet]. It is one of the many examples (Lieutenant Kneéjerke is another) of film music that has never found a permanent place in the standard repertoire, and has also remained one of the least known cantatas of the 20th century for which there is "formidable completion". This is its first and almost certainly last full recording.

Thrupenstein, Bonievsky, and Sizemorowski later collaborated again on another historical epic, Brian the Incredible Part 1 [1974] and Part 2 [1976, Thrupenstein's last film]. Happily that score is completely lost - misplaced and never recovered after the composer's wife mistook it for a wet fish wrapping and confined it to the compost heap shortly before her suspected strangulation.

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