Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Founder Len Mullenger:

Alexander GLAZUNOV
Orchestral Works

Fantasy The Sea op 28
Oriental Rhapsody op 29
Ballade op 78
Cortège Solennel op 91

Moscow Symphony Orchestra/Igor Golovchin
Recorded at Mosfilm Studio, Moscow, in May 1996
NAXOS 8.553512 [68:35]
Crotchet   AmazonUK   AmazonUS

While Glazunov is not exactly in the top flight of composers I've never understood why only the Violin Concerto and The Seasons - until recently at any rate - have held a place in the standard repertoire. The symphonies and piano concertos contain much no less attractive music in a rich late-romantic vein.

All the works on this disc were new to me - as I imagine they will be to most listeners - and I looked forward with some eagerness to reviewing it. In the event I must reluctantly report that the music gripped my attention only spasmodically, and its neglect is therefore not surprising. Glazunov composed with effortless fluency, was a master craftsman with an especially fine grasp of form and, as a protégé of Rimsky-Korsakov, capable of brilliant orchestral effects; but as a melodist, his inspiration was fitful.

The Sea, a one-movement piece composed in 1889 and lasting just over 20 minutes, follows a precisely declared programme (basically: calm, storm, return to calm). The central storm section is vividly conceived; the outer 'calm' sections somewhat static. The longer Oriental Rhapsody, which dates from the same year and to which Glazunov also assigned a definite programme, has six movements. A spectacular finale (clearly inspired by Rimsky-Korsakov) comes as welcome compensation for the longueurs of much of the other movements.

The Ballade (1902) is also in ternary form and is much less overtly Russian in character than the earlier pieces. It reveals moments of elegiac beauty but its material fails to sustain interest even for 15 minutes. The Cortège Solennel (1910) is a dignified ceremonial piece, notable for its expert scoring, especially for brass.

The performances are first-class and the recording clear and warm, if a little 'boxy' at times.

Adrian Smith

Return to Index

Reviews from previous months
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board.  Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.This is the only part of MusicWeb for which you will have to register.

You can purchase CDs, tickets and musician's accessories and Save around 22% with these retailers: