Alexander GLAZUNOV (1865-1936)
Piano Concerto No. 1 in F minor, Op. 92 (1911) [30:51]
Piano Concerto No. 2 in B major, Op. 100 (1917) [20:09]
Elena Glazunov (piano)
Hamburg Philharmonic Orchestra/Alois Melichar
rec. 29 (2) 31 (1) October 1956
Pristine Audio Natural Sound XR restoration from Telefunken LP GMA 54

The pianist Elena Glazunov was originally Elena Gavrilova his step-daughter. He adopted her after marrying her mother. Elena performed the Second Concerto in Paris in December 1928. She also played it again at New York’s Met in December 1929 and during her tours of the USA that year with her step-father.

Alexander Glazunov composed his Piano Concerto No. 1 in 1911 during his tenure as director of the St. Petersburg Conservatoire. It is dedicated to Leopold Godowsky. It is in two movements, the second being a theme and variations. The Concerto has a nice line in rhetoric with some surgingingly heady invention. This boiling romantic cauldron seethes with aspiring strings and heroic pianism. It’s not all super-heated; at 10:30 onwards there’s some nicely measured and slow-pulsed calm. The closing pages are warmly curvaceous and rhetorical in the manner of the finale of the Eighth Symphony. It’s all to the good except for a strangely ‘dead’ yet assertive triangle. This is completely successful unlike the breathless Rachmilovich Glazunov 4 on Pristine PASC 109.

The Second Piano Concerto is also high-flown, volatile and uber-romantic. It makes play with a theme familiar from The Nutcracker. The tempo is consistently slower than the low key Yablonskaya on Naxos 8.553928 and slower also than the ringingly resounding Alexeiev in No. 2 on Olympia OCD 165. Great impact!

It’s all well worth it with a vibrant towering balance favouring the piano and Glazunov’s spirited playing. An analogue hiss-hush is present but nicely tamed.

A few words about the conductor Alois Melichar (1896-1976). He was an Austrian who studied at the Vienna Academy of Music with Joseph Marx (1917-1920) and at the Hochschule für Musik in Berlin with Schreker (1920-1923). He was in the Caucasus from 1923 to 1926 where he gathered Caucasian folk songs. His music includes a symphonic poem, Der Dom (1934); Rhapsodie über ein schwedisches Volkslied (1939); Lustspiel-Ouvertüre (1942) as well as lieder and film music.

This is a true representation of the best in Glazunov interpretation. No half measures.

Rob Barnett

This is a true representation of the best in Glazunov interpretation. No half measures.