two separately available discs are volumes 1 and 3 of Northern
Flowers' new ‘Wartime Music’ series. Volume 2 presents
the Fifth Symphony of Vladimir Scherbachov (1889-1952).
The series - which is supported by the City Government
of St Petersburg - is intended to restore historic justice
to figures who were active during the Great Patriotic War
Symphonies 22 and 23 make a strong contrast with 24 and
25. The latter are epic-heroic even if Titov does grant
the some emotional distance. Between 22 and 23 Titov is
more dramatic and touching in the big single movement and
single track 22. He makes intelligent and emotive use of
the slow and surging master-theme that carries Symphony
high. That theme and treatment bridge the years
since Miaskovsky's great Fifth Symphony; yet also looks
forward to Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet
. Titov uncovers
a graceful float and flow to the motion of the music and
this can be heard in the echoing dialogue around the grand
melody at 12:23 onward. The work's ruminative aspect is
cast aside in the resolution at 29:20. It makes for a crashing
call-to-arms without a simplistic poster-art effect. Titov
is inspiriting and makes intelligently marshalled use of
the new shuddering determination he has found. Even so
he is more of a poetic bard than a priest of the intrepid.
That does not stop him building a heavy-weight energetic
grandeur at 32:38. The brass in these pages are commandingly
gaunt. For poetry one will turn to Titov in future but
for the hot blast of tragedy there is Svetlanov and ...
well, Svetlanov. He is magnificent even if Titov is far
better recorded and knows the poetic and elegiac better
22 was premiered in Tbilisi under A. Stasevich on 12 January
23 is a different kettle altogether. Like 18 and 26 it
is more folk-discursive than 22, 24 and 25. Its resonances
are in works such as Ippolitov-Ivanov's poetic pictures,
Mussorgsky's Dawn on the Moskva River
and Borodin's In
the Steppes of Central Asia
. There is warmth here rather
than combat and cordite. Titov gives the work a luminous,
spiritual and lovingly shaped performance. It’s the best
on record - the music simply shines and glows.
Golovanov conducted the premiere in Moscow on 11 June 1942.
Other contemporary works of similar folk-relaxed mien include
Prokofiev's String Quartet No. 2 which is known as the Kabardino-Balkarian
reflect the warm welcome and folk experience they enjoyed
there from their hosts in the Kabardino-Balkarian Soviet
Socialist Republic. This is more Polovtsian Dances than
scorching war symphony. Try the joyous finale with its
whirling activity, impudent flutes and crashing tambourines.
It provides healing even today and must have done so then
Symphonies 24 and 25 have been coupled before, most recently
by Naxos in versions by Yablonsky and before that on Melodiya
by the USSR State SO and Svetlanov on SUCD 10-00474.
Both Yablonsky and Svetlanov were more incendiary and volatile.
Titov takes the long view - evolutionary and epic. His
recording of 24 is imposing in its attention to the long
architectural stride. This works very well indeed but at
times one could have wished for more ferocity as at the
start of the finale of 24. Titov is broodingly satisfying
overall and is blessed with a realistic unglamorous concert
hall balance. His exhausted tenderness is tellingly put
across in the Adagio
of No. 25 clearly taking a
family resemblance from the finale of Tchaikovsky's Pathetique.
the central Moderato
the woodwind are more cossetingly
sentimental. In the final allegro impetuoso
expected sense of impetuosity, resolve and grit are there
amid the nostalgic melancholy. Its intensity is a slow-blooming
thing. Even so the climaxing trumpets at 11:08 are things
of splendour as is the epic weight of the last pages of
this grand statement.
do not tell all things, the timings for Titov are interesting.
He is broadly speaking slower than either Yablonsky or
Svetlanov in symphonies 24 and 25.
|Symphony No. 24
|Symphony No. 25
also Miaskovsky resource page