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Nikolai MYASKOVSKY (1881-1950)
Links op. 65 (1944-45) [26:10]
Slav Rhapsody in D minor op. 71 (1946) [11:32]
Serenade No. 1 in E flat major op. 32 No. 1 (1928-29) [17:24]
Sinfonietta in A major op. 10 (1910) [20:17]
Russian Federation Academic SO/Evgeny Svetlanov
rec. 1991-93, Great Hall, Moscow Conservatory. DDD
volume 15 in the Miaskovsky Edition
ALTO ALC1041 (Olympia OCD745) [75:49] 


Experience Classicsonline

Alto have completed the Olympia series of CDs setting forth Miaskovsky's 27 symphonies. The Altos in question are ALC 1021-1024 (15/27; 16/19; 17/21; 23/24). Having done so they now move smartly onwards to the non-symphonic pieces of which there are two more CDs worth to come. There’s going to be a degree of duplication with Regis RRC1244 here – that disc has performances of Op. 32 conducted by Yevgeny Samoilov.

That all the symphonies have been issued on Olympia-Regis does not spell the end of the serious or heroic Myaskovsky. The title of the half hour Links suite relates to a musical chain. Towards the end of the War he turned to some early piano works written 1908-12 and reworked them. The serious-monumental mien of the first movement belies the light-as-down strings of the Allegretto which inhabits the feathery worlds of the op. 32 orchestral triptych. The auburn uncertainties and vibrato-shivering trumpet of the third movement is memorable. After a  completely characteristic Larghetto comes a sleepy Andante and an Allegro of Tchaikovskian splendour. It is very much in the tradition of the psychological waltzes of Prokofiev. The Slav Rhapsody is dedicated to Igor Boelza who wrote one the earliest English language guides to Soviet composers. The Rhapsody has the venerated weight of the Russian Orthodox liturgy which then gives way to exuberance. It is not one of his finest pieces. The Serenade is for small orchestra minus trombones. Dating from after the darker lichen paths of the Tenth Symphony, this compact three movement piece is the first chapter of the op. 32 trilogy. The festivities of the first and last movements partly echo the Slav Rhapsody but what stands out here is Svetlanov's tremendous principal trumpet and woodwind choir - the latter in the prayerful central Andante.  This piece has its moments but it is not the most distinctive of his works. The op.10 Sinfonietta is from 1910. It is in three movements. These student efforts skip in carefree abandon from Tchaikovskian fantasy to pristine Rimskian textures to a tramping Glazunov-style Rondo. The recording is gripping and Links is a much more memorable work than you may have been expecting. 

The highly detailed notes are by Jeffrey Davis. 

The non-symphonic Myaskovsky proves well worth hearing. If you do not already have the Warner Symphony set then this one is de rigueur for those who have caught the Myaskovsky virus. It's virulently infectious.

Rob Barnett


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