A Life for the Tsar -
Souvenir d'une nuit d'ete a
Armenian Philharmonic Orchestra
conducted by Loris Tjeknavorian
recorded 21 / 22 July 1999, Aram Khatchaturian Hall, Yerevan, Armenia
ASV CD DCA 1075
ASV has been very fortunate with their series featuring the Armenian Philharmonic
with Lois Tjecknavorian. Most of the discs so far issued have been artistically
very successful, and by concentrating on a specific part of the repertoire,
they have ensured that the strong points of this combination are put to good
use with the material they have recorded.
This next disc in the series is no exception. Apart from a twofer from RCA,
there are relatively few records in the market which are dedicated exclusively
to Glinka, and so if you wish to buy such a disc, there is relatively little
That however would be irrelevant if the current disc was unsatisfactory,
which I am very pleased to say it is not. Here, we have the Armenians in
their familiar guise, accurate, brilliant playing, with a sense of style
and colour which is often not present in other recordings of Glinka's music.
The folk like rhythms are brilliantly executed, supporting the composer's
colourful orchestration which altogether add up to a stunning issue.
In addition ASV's sound is first rate, masterminded by Brian Culverhouse.
This is music which needs good recording quality to make an impact, and the
alternative RCA issue falls down a little here by comparison, although the
performances are just as good.
The suite from "a Life for the Tsar" is more complete than most other recordings
of these pieces, containing as it does the Overture, and the Polonaise,
Krakowiak, Waltz, Mazurka and Epilogue. The opera had its first performance
in 1836, and was based upon the period in Russian history which ended in
1613, and resulted in the accession of Mikhail Romanov, the founder of the
dynasty which was to rule Russia for the next 300 years. The second act of
the opera deals with the intervention of the Polish allies who were drafted
in by the "false Demetrius", to support his accession to the throne vacated
by Boris Godunov in 1605. We are treated to the series of dances which form
part of a ball scene in Act 2 pt on by the Poles. We have here the Polonaise,
Krakowiak, Waltz and Mazurka. and the selection ends with the entr'acte which
leads into the epilogue at the end of the opera.
The remaining half of the disc is taken up by other popular works by Glinka,
all of which have become orchestral showpieces in their own right. Glinka
visited Spain for two years in 1843, and there, captivated by local folk
music, sketched out a dazzling Spanish overture, Capriccio Brillante. The
second overture, although inspired by his visit to Spain, was not written
until later - this being Souvenir d'une nuite d'ete a Madrid. Having completed
these Spanish pieces, Glinka turned his attention to the enormous wealth
of Russian folk music, and Kamarinskaya was the result, a fantasy on two
Russian folk songs. The remaining piece on this highly entertaining record
is the Valse Fantasie, orchestrated by the composer in 1856 from a piano
piece, written years before.