Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

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ALEXANDER GLAZUNOV (1878-1936) Grand Adagio in D minor from Raymonda (1897) * cond Vladimir Fedosyev rec 20 Jan 1983 Concert Waltz no. 1 in D major (1893) * cond Gennadi Tcherkasov rec 20 Dec 1978 To the Memory of a Hero - Symphonic Elegy (1881) * cond Vladimir Fedosyev rec 10 June 1982 The Forest - Fantasia (1887)   Moscow State SO/Veronika Dudarova rec 18 Dec 1983 * Moscow RTVSO all ADD ICONE Russian Masters Collection ICN-9424-2 [45:01] bargain price



This is a very mixed bargain price collection which because of its variety will focus you more on the music than on the artists. The common artists are Fedoseyev (Adagio and Elegy) who has a cycle of the Glazunov symphonies to his name and the Moscow RTVSO who appear on all but The Forest track. Tcherkasov and Fedoseyev are both natives of Leningrad as also was Glazunov.

The first track is the shortest at 4:37 and the longest is the last at almost 20 minutes. The Grand Adagio is rather intense but ultimately anonymous: polished and professionally balletic in the grand manner but not desperately interesting. The Concert Waltz is much more interesting being frequently rather Tchaikovskian. The whole thing is redolent of grand Edwardian hotels, pot plants, palms, tall sylph-like women in nodding feathered hats, a perpetual charming round of chatter and superficial romance. There is none of the complex psychological overlay that Prokofiev brought to the waltz years later. The notes mention the influence of Brahms and Dvorák but I could catch nothing of their voices just the romantic dizzy absorption of the dance. The Symphonic Elegy is an early work which I have never heard before. It is roughly contemporaneous with the first symphony. I wonder who the hero was. This is a work which begins in subdued charcoal lights with a dignified melody with a distinct ecclesiastical tone. This relaxes at 6:22 into a heart-easing tune rising to a rolling passionate climax at 7:05 and great calling brass at 7:22. From 9:03 the massed strings seem to call up memories of triumphant church bells..

The Forest is conducted by Dudarova (the only non-Leningrader) who was born in Baku. It is a romantically glistening work, rather rambling as befits a fantasy it certainly shows how much Glazunov had learnt from Rimsky-Korsakov. This forest is one of eerie magic (not the romantic Wunderhorn fantasy woods of Raff and Mendelssohn) but one populated by clarinet trills, a great trombone choir, troll dances and a storm. Mind you Glazunov’s storms have none of the elemental power of Tapiola (Sibelius) or even November Woods (Bax). In truth there were a few moments when I thought the tone-pictures were more marine than sylvan. While Glazunov had it in him to create grandeur (Symphony No. 8) there is no terror but lyrical release aplenty.

The whole package is well designed and documented with precise dates and venue (Concert Hall of Moscow Radio) of recording and reasonably informative anonymous notes (English only). What a pity about the short playing time. I recall a rather good Finnish Fantasy from the days of EMI-Melodiya LPs. Surely that recording was available. Technically the sound is not outstanding - perfectly respectable - having been Sonic Solutions No-Noised. Worth exploring. It would have scored higher if the timing had been more generous. If you have a spare five pounds you will make some real discoveries here; notably the last two tracks.


Rob Barnett

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Reviewer Rob Barnett

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