Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

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ALEMDAR KARAMANOV (b.1934) Symphony No. 3 (1956-64) Piano Concerto No. 3 Ave Maria (1968)   Vladimir Viardo (piano) Moscow SO/Antonio de Almeida   rec 3 Nov 1994, Moscow Conservatory, Grand Hall MARCO POLO 8.223796 [73.38]

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Alemdar Karamanov (born in Simferopol) is a Crimean composer (he wrote the Crimean national anthem) whose prolific symphonism has produced more than 24 symphonies. Information about him is rather short on the ground but Ates Orga's notes to this release are especially helpful. I rather wish we heard more from Mr Orga.

Karamanov was a friend of Schnittke who studied with both Khrennikov and Kabalevsky. His first works were perhaps trendily avant-garde. His Third Piano Concerto Ave Maria was heard in London in 1997. Karamanov's meditative quasi-religious music is as attractive (and instantly so) as Giya Kancheli's symphonies or Valentin Silvestrov's Fifth Symphony. This family of composers can be counted in the same company as Gorecki's Symphony of Sorrowful Songs and Arvo Pärt's Cantus. There is no reason why this music, in its long and frankly melodic lines, should not enjoy the same success.

The Third Symphony is an early example beside the Decca and Olympia issues however despite the above notes it is not a forbidding work having more in common with Khachaturyan and Prokofiev (Romeo and Juliet) than with the thorny splendours of Shchedrin and Denisov. The first movement is full of beautiful touches including a deliriously insistent trumpet solo over trembling strings. Its dervish of a storm quickly dissipates resolving into an uncertain serenade of Miaskovskian mien. The moderato (II) features a chaos of birdsong and music that could easily be placed close to Prokofiev's Scythian Suite. The ensuing Andantino's sadly chiming vibraphone speaks of an accessible humanity and does so without sourness or the taste of cordite. The finale is an allegro of Tippett-like élan - rather cold emotionally.

The piano concerto is somewhat Rachmaninovian (but with less incident), with touches of Scriabin (the tune-smith as in the piano concerto rather than the later 'godlike delusion' works) and the main Andantino theme uses a melody of some nagging persistence which sounds like Vaughan Williams. It is here especially that I thought of Silvestrov and Gorecki. Altogether a rather striking work which achieves reverence without religiosity.

Although I recall the other two Karamanov discs listed below as having been reviewed in Gramophone the present Marco Polo does not seem to have made that particular 'grade'.


Rob Barnett



Symphony No. 20 "Blessed are the dead"

Symphony No. 23, "I am Jesus"

USSR SO/Vladimir Fedoseyev.



Symphony No. 22 "Let it be"

Symphony No. 23, "I am Jesus"

Deutsches SO, Berlin/Vladimir Ashkenazy.

DECCA 452 850-2DH

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Rob Barnett

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