ALEKSANDR KOPYLOV (1854-1911)
Symphony in C minor
Moscow SO/Antonio de
rec Moscow, Nov
ASV CD DCA 1013
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
Another winner from ASV and so easily overlooked.