After Symphonies 3, 5 and 6, pre-eminently No.
5, Symphonies 24 and 25 are the next in line for an open-minded
listener who wants to try Miaskovsky without being put off. Despite
the dates you must not expect the cordite and acrid monumentalism
of Shostakovich. Neither is this music that plays by the same
angular rules as Prokofiev. Crudely put, Miaskovsky's music is
'old fashioned'. His writing seems to synthesise the voices of
Rachmaninov (Isle of the Dead and Second Symphony), Scriabin
(first two symphonies) and Tchaikovsky (Manfred and Hamlet).
These two symphonies are well harnessed sharing
a sincerely and searchingly heroic quality. It is not the first
time that they have shared a disc. They were coupled by Melodiya
in 1992 as one of only two discs issued from Svetlanov's complete
cycle of all twenty-seven. The disc was Melodiya SUCD 10-00474.
The other Melodiya-Svetlanov was of Symphony No. 17 (a symphony
reputedly coupled with No. 18 in very recently issued Russian
Classound release of the Alexander Gauk recordings from the 1950s:
2003-006). The complete cycle had to wait until Records International's
boxed set of 2000 and for the seventeen disc Olympia series of
which eight remain (May 2003) to be issued.
Time after time Yablonsky and the faithful vision
carried by his orchestra take us into Miaskovsky's emotionally
eloquent world of grief and beauty. Just listen to the orchestral
string shudders at 6.39 in the middle movement of the Twenty-Fourth
Symphony. They are pregnant with significance. There is little
brashness in this music but much that brings the barriers of repression
and restraint crashing down in face of Miaskovsky's courage and
poetic audacity. The more I hear this music the more bewildered
I am by its failure to cut it in concert hall schedules. This
is special playing even by the side of Svetlanov.
The present coupling represents the first Miaskovsky
symphony disc to appear in the Naxos line. The others are still
to be had at full price on Marco Polo: 7 and 10 (Halasz), 6, 8
and 12 (Stankovsky) and 5 and 9 (Downes). Is the present disc
the cue, I wonder, for these other discs to migrate onto Naxos?
For students and enthusiasts of what we can term
the 'Soviet Symphony' this bargain price disc needs to be snapped
COMPARISON OF TIMINGS
Svetlanov (1992) - Yablonsky (2000)
Symphony No. 24
Svetlanov: I - 11.56; II 14.39; III 12.12
Yablonsky: I - 12.38; II 11.04; III 11.14
Symphony No. 25
Svetlanov: I - 15.57; II 5.20; III 13.40
Yablonsky: I - 12.36; II 4.31; III 13.40