Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Music Webmaster
Len Mullenger:

Symphony in C minor (1888)
Concert Overture

Moscow SO/Antonio de Almeida
rec Moscow, Nov 1996
ASV CD DCA 1013 [69.08]

Kopylov's name is not among the acknowledged pantheon of Russian composers. On the evidence of this disc the music should be accounted in company with Arensky, Kalinnikov and Glazunov with the music in benign thrall to Borodin.

Kopylov was a product of the Imperial Court Cappella; somewhat sidelined by the prestigious conservatoriums of Moscow, St Petersburg and Balakirev's Free Music School.

The beefy Symphony is in four movements and owes its existence to the wealthy musical benefactor Mitrofan Belyayev who paid for its publication. It is dedicated to Liadov and its premiere was conducted by Rimsky who somewhat facilely wrote the work off as 'neat'.

The andante, at just short of twenty minutes is almost half the length of the symphony. The orchestration is justly judged - often light on the aural palate with a nice interplay between strings and woodwind. There is a trace or two of typical slavonic struggle evidenced in Brahmsian storminess and a Rimskian 'Nirvana' (Antar) as well as a figure suggestive of Elgar (symphony no. 2 at 16.40). The micro-scherzo echoes with Beethoven's fifth and seventh symphonies and some lovingly judged distancing effects are aptly caught by a sensitive recording. The (second) andante yearns in peaceful pastures, almost too civilised. Its 'backbone' is a melody of not the greatest distinction but such is Kopylov's genius that it delivers very effectively across the 11 or so minute movement. The finale suggests some Imperial processional dashed with the panache of Glazunov 4 and the drama of Tchaikovsky's fifth.

The scherzo is Tchaikovskian, balletic, sparkling along with a will (Glazunov again) and incorporating a dramatic fanfare from Tchaik 4 and a Rimskian rippling melody. The Overture has a solo horn intoning a pliable theme mingling exoticism and Orthodox chant. This is variously developed and presented with hints of Borodin's Prince Igor overture and Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker. Extremely attractive.

Another winner from ASV and so easily overlooked.

Rob Barnett

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