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Alla PAVLOVA (b. 1952)

Symphony No. 5 (2006) [47:23]
Elegy for piano and string orchestra (1998) [4:41]
Mikhail Shestakov (violin); Andrei Korobeinikov (piano)
Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra of Moscow Radio/Vladimir Ziva
rec. Studio 5, Russian State TV and Radio Company Kultura, Moscow, 18, 21 June 2006
NAXOS 8.570369 [52:04] 


Pavlova was born in Russian but has lived in New York since 1990. Her music has been taken up by Naxos as we can see from: Symphonies 1 and 3, 8.557157;  Symphonies 2 and 4, 8.557566; Sulamith, 8.557674.

Her music has a directly appealing melodic melancholia. Crude parallels would take in the Tchaikovsky of the Pathétique, the lyric Prokofiev rather than the flâneur-sardonic and the adagio of Rachmaninov's Second Symphony.  Pavlova must have been delighted with Ziva's performance which has a fluent sense of forward movement in equipoise with a confidently weighted melancholia. The mot juste between static and dynamic is very evident in the first two movements. This is plangent music - romantic and graceful without being tame or carrying any of the desiccation of neo-classicism. There is something piercingly affecting about this writing. Much of it has a steadiness about it but urgent forward momentum can  be heard in the outer movements of this five movement symphony. The sound signature of what is an expansive work carries a strong emphasis on the massed strings. The only brass are the horns. The percussion ranks are also slimmed down. 

The composer points out in the liner notes that the symphony has a spiritual programme - which takes the listener from personal feelings about Life, to an escape via meditation into the micro-world of the lotus flower, the disturbances of the real world, the realisation that the journey of life is also its Goal. Such programmatic background is interesting but the symphony stands on its atmosphere and emotional gravitas. 

The brief Elegy has been recorded before on Albany.  The music again has Pavlova's trademark breathing plangency and subtly regretful air. It has the air of Rachmaninov sumptuously blended with the music for Love Story and Dr Zhivago. It was written for the film The American Healys (1998). 

It is a pleasure to report that Pavlova’s instinct and compulsion to compose remain as strong as ever and just as potently distinctive. 

Rob Barnett

see also Review by Dan Morgan  


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Editorial Board
Classical Editor
Rob Barnett
Seen & Heard
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   Stan Metzger
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   David Barker
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