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JANIS IVANOVS 1906-83 Orchestral Music - Vol. 1 - 1933-36 Symphony No. 1 (1933) *[13:18] Latgalian Landscapes (1936) ** [17:50] Symphony No 2 (1935) *** [31:33] Latvian National SO conducted by Imants Resnis *; Janis Zirnis **; Vassily Sinaisky *** All recordings from sound archive of Latvijas Radio Recorded: * 1980 ** 1982 *** 1981 CAMEO 2008 [62.59] mid price series



Thanks to the blessed Campion for their superb Ivanovs series. This consists of 12 CDs of which volumes 1, 2 and 3 are already available along with a violin concerto of such gloriously memorable melodic value that I cannot begin to understand why it is not played by the world's greatest - Joshua Bell should be playing it this year at the Proms instead of the Walton but then a similar pall of neglect hangs over other treasurable violin concertos including the De Boeck and Karlowicz.

The single movement No. 1 poema-sinfonia was thought to be lost but has now been traced. This is its world premiere recording. At 3:10 the music sounds incredibly Baxian (Fand) and there is more than a hint of Khachaturyan; not to mention a filmic, yearning theme of Tchaikovskian character. Sibelian woodwind chiff chaff breezily (5:14) and in the last section (from 7.90) it is Balakirev's wild revels from Symphony No. 1 or Tamara that seem to be the inspiration. Despite the hotchpotch of other composer references the work does have a character of its own and is attractive without being especially symphonically compelling.

The suite Latgalian Landscapes relates to Latgale in Eastern Latvia - the homeland of Janis Ivanovs. The introduction is rhapsodic, prompting parallels with the music of both Miaskovsky and Bax. The ambience at the end of the first movement was cut off too quickly I thought. The second movement: Blue Lake has been played separately. It is a little like Debussy and this voice (of which more was to come in Symphony No. 4) includes shuddering dialogues between winds and strings. It is superbly sumptuous and can be compared, as a mood evocation, with Maurice Johnstone's Tarn Howes (wonderfully done on the superb new ASV collection). In passing there is at least one section where the Spartacus Adagio by Khachaturyan is more than hinted at. This recording has a natural stereo spread. The final dance is jerkily inconsequential, with touches of Oriental freneticism and a 'Hollywood' soft centre.

The score and parts for Symphony No 2 were lost for years; the only copy was thought to have been destroyed in the World War 2 bombing of the Latvian Radio library. Ivanovs used themes from the symphony in his film music for The Late Frost. It was not included in the Melodiya LP series.

The work has an austere, almost grim romance which is very accessible. Miaskovsky must have been an influence (try 8:09 onwards on track 5). The first of the three movements has a theme with 'long legs' which is well handled and ends in conventionally crashing celebration. The Andante has a cloud-capped atmosphere and misty romance. A big passionate climax crowns the movement at 8.20. The tune is ruefully sung in liquid tones by the solo French horn at circa 9.42. The finale Grotesques is a stertorous gallop (6.43): alternately Franckian and Sibelian. It climaxes in a corruscating shimmer.

The excellent booklet runs to 20pp in English, German and French.

If you like the music of Tchaikovsky you will like these frankly late-romantic melodic works

The series also draws attention to Latvia in a postcard insert in back of jewel case.

I am following this series with eager and close interest. If you warm at all to Northern climes' late romanticism do not miss this disc under any circumstances.


Rob Barnett


12 volumes

Issued May 1999

1 1933-36 Symphony No. 1; Symphony No. 2; Latgalian Landscapes review

2 1938 Symphony No. 3; The Cloudy Mountain; Cello Concerto  review

3 1939-41 Symphony No. 4; Rainbow

To be issued Autumn 1999

4 1945-49 Symphony No 5 43' 12"  1949 Symphony No. 6 33' 45" 76.57

5 1951 Violin Concerto 31' 20" (same version as already released separately - other version to be deleted) 1954 Symphony No 7 33' 47" 20 07"

6 1955 Frost In Spring 20' 10" 1956 Symphony No 8 32' 47" 1957 Lacplesis 14'11" [67' 08"]

6 more volumes to come

7 1959 Piano Concerto 25' 57" 1963 Andante 7' 34" 1963 Symphony No 10 31' 59" 65'30"

8 1965 Symphony No 11 32' 55" 1966 Poema Luttuosa 12' 36" 1967 Symphony No 12 24' 08" 69'39"

9 1969 Symphony No 13 33' 13"???? Festival Overture 3' 57"1971 Symphony No 14 21' 44" 58' 54"

10 1972 Symphony No 15 30' 19"1974 Symphony No 16 30' 34" 60' 53"

11 1976 Symphony No 17 31' 40"1977 Symphony No 18 33' 08" 64' 48"

12 1979 Symphony No 19 38' 27" 1981 Symphony No 20 26' 41" 64' 08"


1983 Symphony No 21 (completed by ??) 23'13"

1940* The Solemn Prelude 4' 32"

(*already out of order)

Date unknown Symphonietta 11'53"

Possible new recording by now of 9th Symphony 32' 00" approx.

TOTAL 74'00" or less

Violin Concerto already available differently coupled with Sibelius and Sallinen concertos on a Campion disc

Orders and enquiries can be made to


Rob Barnett

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