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March for military band (1943)
Variations for oboe and military band
Concertstuck for clarinet and military band
arr Song of the Volga Boatmen
March of the Soviet Police
Soviet Police March (1975)
Symphony No. 19 (1938)
Alf Nilsson (ob) Solve Kingstedt (cl)
Stockholm Concert Band/Gennadi Rozhdestvenski
rec Stockholm, 11-12 June 1995
CHANDOS CHAN 9444 [54.44]
Amazon USA


The main draw for this disc is the Miaskovsky but first of all let's survey the other items.

The Prokofiev is bluff, cheeky and brash in line of fire from the famous Love of Three Oranges march. The Rimsky oboe piece is quite symphonic and sensitive in feel rather leaning towards the music you encounter in Tchaikovsky's four orchestral suites and ending with extensive variations on the Russian folk song The Birch Tree as used by Tchaikovsky in the fourth symphony. The clarinet piece is as bubblingly mellifluous as anything by Crusell or Weber. The Stravinsky reworking of the Volga song is disruptive and harsh - very acceptable! The Shostakovich is as bumptious as can be, almost Viennese bandmasterish and smacking of Sousa without the billowing horn waves. Khachaturyan's much later counterpart to Shostakovich's effort is in fact much closer to Sousa - trenchantly triumphant - a real foot-tapper with a more inspired (but brief) central rumination.

The Miaskovsky has been available before in various Russian recordings. The one most likely to have been encountered is the Olympia OCD 105 (USSR Ministry of Defence Band/Lev Mikhailov). The work was inspired by hearing his own eighteenth symphony in wind band arrangement. The four movements have never been heard before to such fine advantage. Stereo separation is excellent. The sound (superior to the Olympia disc which in any event is no longer available) reminded me of Reference Recordings' enviable CDs of Holst's and Arnold's wind band music. The music itself is, in the case of the first movement, quite Holstian in that warm positively mellifluous and enveloping way we find in the two suites. Both the first and finale movements are rhythmically active - mordant and unexpected in terms of mood. The second movement might almost have been an inspiration to Malcolm Arnold in the romance of the English Dances but also in their gracious sense of the eternal dance. The Andante serioso presents a more familiar Miaskovsky speaking in sombre tones, chilly, cradled in nostalgia. Overall though this is not the Miaskovsky of Symphonies 3, 5, 6, 24, 25 or 27.

The playing time of the disc is not long (with 26.44 for the Miaskovsky) but such are the curiosity and musical values that one can forgive this omission. Still what a pity they did not go the whole hog and offer Shostakovich's Solemn March, Prokofiev's Oranges, Spartakiad, and the other two concert marches. There are other concert band pieces by Rimsky, Khachaturyan's many marches including the Field March No. 1, To the Heroes of the Great Patriotic War etc.

 Good notes and, in summary, a collection that left me wanting more. There should be a volume 2.

Rob Barnett

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