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Nikolai MYASKOVSKY (1881-1950)
Symphony No. 24 (1943) [35.08]
Symphony No. 25 (1947) [30.58]
Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra/Dmitry Yablonsky
Rec. 18, 22-23 Oct 2000, Radio House, Moscow, DDD
NAXOS 8.555376 [66.07]


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After Symphonies 3, 5 and 6, pre-eminently No. 5, Symphonies 24 and 25 are the next in line for an open-minded listener who wants to try Miaskovsky without being put off. Despite the dates you must not expect the cordite and acrid monumentalism of Shostakovich. Neither is this music that plays by the same angular rules as Prokofiev. Crudely put, Miaskovsky's music is 'old fashioned'. His writing seems to synthesise the voices of Rachmaninov (Isle of the Dead and Second Symphony), Scriabin (first two symphonies) and Tchaikovsky (Manfred and Hamlet).

These two symphonies are well harnessed sharing a sincerely and searchingly heroic quality. It is not the first time that they have shared a disc. They were coupled by Melodiya in 1992 as one of only two discs issued from Svetlanov's complete cycle of all twenty-seven. The disc was Melodiya SUCD 10-00474. The other Melodiya-Svetlanov was of Symphony No. 17 (a symphony reputedly coupled with No. 18 in very recently issued Russian Classound release of the Alexander Gauk recordings from the 1950s: 2003-006). The complete cycle had to wait until Records International's boxed set of 2000 and for the seventeen disc Olympia series of which eight remain (May 2003) to be issued.

Time after time Yablonsky and the faithful vision carried by his orchestra take us into Miaskovsky's emotionally eloquent world of grief and beauty. Just listen to the orchestral string shudders at 6.39 in the middle movement of the Twenty-Fourth Symphony. They are pregnant with significance. There is little brashness in this music but much that brings the barriers of repression and restraint crashing down in face of Miaskovsky's courage and poetic audacity. The more I hear this music the more bewildered I am by its failure to cut it in concert hall schedules. This is special playing even by the side of Svetlanov.

The present coupling represents the first Miaskovsky symphony disc to appear in the Naxos line. The others are still to be had at full price on Marco Polo: 7 and 10 (Halasz), 6, 8 and 12 (Stankovsky) and 5 and 9 (Downes). Is the present disc the cue, I wonder, for these other discs to migrate onto Naxos?

For students and enthusiasts of what we can term the 'Soviet Symphony' this bargain price disc needs to be snapped up promptly.

Rob Barnett

COMPARISON OF TIMINGS
Svetlanov (1992) - Yablonsky (2000)
Symphony No. 24

Svetlanov: I - 11.56; II 14.39; III 12.12
Yablonsky: I - 12.38; II 11.04; III 11.14
Symphony No. 25

Svetlanov: I - 15.57; II 5.20; III 13.40
Yablonsky: I - 12.36; II 4.31; III 13.40



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British Music Soc.
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Nimbus
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Sheva
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