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Nikolai MYASKOVSKY (1881-1950)
Symphony no. 6 in E flat minor, Op. 23 Revolutionary (1922-1923) [61:38]
Symphony no. 10 in F minor, Op. 30 (1927) [16:40]
Domestik Choir of Ekaterinburg
Ural State Philharmonic Orchestra/Dmitry Liss
rec. 25-28 February 2006, Philharmonia Great Hall, Ekaterinburg. DDD
WARNER CLASSICS 63431-2 [78:18]

Right from the start Liss makes it clear that this is going to be a gripping and urgent account of the Myaskovsky Sixth Symphony. It’s a reading of elemental spontaneity seemingly swept along by the fire or poetry of the moment. That flame, in the first movement, can produce moments that teeter close to a gabble. One wonders whether the young Golovanov produced similar results for his premiere at the Bolshoi on 4 May 1924.
The majestically singing lyricism of the long third movement can be heard in both in its magnificence and its understated poetry between 10:04 and 11:49. The finale has moments that suggest a light-hearted bumpkins' dance but after the celebrations fall away we come to the brief choral part soaked in the music of the Russian orthodox liturgy even if the sentiments of the text point elsewhere. The symphony ends in a peace in which peaceful threads of silver and gold interweave.
The Sixth is an enigmatically loveable symphony with the instinctive accelerandos and rallentandos of any of the great Tchaikovsky symphonies. Its material might be seen to be hewn from the tragic pages of Manfred and then passed through the Myaskovsky alembic to produce searing magnificent tragedy and tender nostalgic regret.
Liss's reading is more volatile and possessed than that of Järvi on DG but not as polished. It ranks high among the increasingly numerous competition.
Contrast the sprawling generous structure of the Sixth with the compact single movement Tenth Symphony premiered by the conductorless Persimfans in 2 April 1928 in Moscow. It is a densely packed and stormily taut work. Its inspiration is from Alexander Benois's illustration to Pushkin's The Bronze Horseman and the surging and tempest of the music is illustrative of the devastating floods of Leningrad in 1824 associated with the story. It has all the elements of a symphony but crammed into just over a quarter of an hour – perhaps influenced by Sibelius’s Seventh. Stokowski premiered the Tenth in Philadelphia in 1930 but unlike the world-beating Fifth and the famous twenty-first it has never won a following. Like the expressionistic thirteenth it is amongst the least fawningly ingratiating of his works and ends in an enigmatic rolling growl.
The exemplary notes are by Malcolm Macdonald, Tempo editor and John Foulds authority. They are freshly written and thoughtful. Interesting that he places Myaskovsky 6 as the most significant Russian symphony between Tchaikovsky 6 and Shostakovich 4.
Rob Barnett

Alternative Myaskovsky Sixths
Stankovsky (Marco Polo 8.223301) - review
Svetlanov (Olympia OCD736) - review
Kondrashin 1978 (Melodiya 1000841) - review
Järvi (DG 471 655-2) - review


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