apparently bears no relation to that more famous musical Tchaikovsky,
which is just as well: they are both products and developers
of the Russian tradition, but they are equally clearly products
of their respective centuries. Boris Tchaikovsky’s teachers
included Shostakovich, Myaskovsky, and Shebalin — auspicious
mentorship that appears to have produced a significant compositional
voice, if one until now little appreciated in the West.
is likely to wonder, particularly regarding the Symphony
no. 1 of 1947: how much does it resemble the work of Shostakovich?
Features reminiscent of Shostakovich as well as other Soviet
composers of the era are present: pungent brass intrusions,
glass-edged string writing, spare and austere orchestration.
Tchaikovsky is in this symphony, however, more conservative
than Shostakovich or even Vainberg. There isn’t the same level
of searing, driving intensity that - depending on how one interprets
it - conveys the personal pain of oppression and alienation
from one’s society. Tchaikovsky, rather, is interested in deploying
the timbres and orchestrations he learned from his teachers
for more formally musical argument. He is successful in doing
this through the long-line; which is to say, he is a natural
symphonist. While this work will not displace any of the twentieth-century
“greats,” it makes for compelling listening and deserves to
be played in Western concert halls.
Volgograd Philharmonic, founded recently in 1987, has a lean
sound that suits the symphony well. Its founder, Edward Serov,
displays a sure control over the global architecture of the
music, a virtue not always to be found in better-known conductors.
is a change of personnel for the two orchestral suites, written
to accompany radio dramas. The conservatory orchestra provides
a richer sound. Though episodic, as one would expect of incidental
music, it should appeal to fans of similar works by Sibelius.
After the Ball actually commences with a very Sibelian
page in the liner-notes features the Boris Tchaikovsky Society
This group, of which the composer’s widow is a founder and many
Russian musical luminaries are members, “organized” these recording.
They note, “the Society welcomes everyone who admires the music
of this great Russian composer. It will be delighted to answer
any inquiries and to send scores.”
has also recorded the composer’s Piano Concerto (8.557727).
I hope that, in their typically systematic way, they will commit
his remaining three symphonies to disc.