Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Myaskovsky, Svetlanov, Academic Sym Orch|
Myaskovsky: Complete Symphonic Works, Volume 1: Symphonies Nos. 1 & 25
An important Series of an Important yet underrated Soviet I.
David A. Hollingsworth | Washington, DC USA | 11/27/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a very intriguing situation! Yevgeny Svetlanov has promoted the works of Myaskovsky since 1965 (with the recording of his Scriabin-ladened Third Symphony). And throughout the latter part of his career, Svetlanov's promotion of the composer's works became even more intense and consistent. This was primarily due to Melodiya's 1990/1991 commission upon the conductor to record almost all of Myaskovsky's works (the cello concerto and Symphonies nos. 3, 19, 22, & 27 rendered by Svetlanov and the USSR State Symphony were recorded by the Melodiya LPs in the 1960s & 1970s while a couple of pieces for strings as well as his cantatas were never recorded by them). From 1991 through 1993, Svetlanov performed and recorded almost all of the composer's music (many of which were never recorded) and Melodiya released two CDs consisting of Symphonies nos. 17, 24, & 25 by 1991.After Melodiya sold its rights to BMG after 1992, another label, Russian Disc, essentially picked up the tab. By the mid-1990s, however, Russian Disc faced a number of serious lawsuits and their efforts to release the Myaskovsky series (and other works of Russian and Non-Russian composers either freshly recorded or re-issued from the original Melodiya) were put on ice. Svetlanov used some of his own personal funds to distribute the Myaskovsky series. As we speak, the limited edition of the Russian Disc, 16 disc set is available (since the Summer of 2001) through Records International. It seems that Olympia is re-issuing the original Russian Disc/Melodiya recordings in its 17 volume set. The rumors that surfaced since the early 1990s of whether there was a Myaskovsky series is actually true (some even claimed that Rozhdestvensky recorded the complete Myaskovsky symphonies-which remains to be seen). As we speak, Neemi Jarvi is currently recording the Myaskovsky symphonies with the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra under the BIS label (if not Deutsche Grammophon, or both); health permitting (for Jarvi suffered a stroke over a year ago), the project may be completed by year's end. Meanwhile, Dmitri Yablonsky and the Moscow Philharmonic under Naxos is (probably) engaging in this project also (the CD of Symphonies 24 & 25 was to be released last Fall). Nikolai Yakovlevich Myaskovsky (1881-1950) is hardly a household name even in Russia. He continues to be an important historical figure, due to his pedagogical commitments as Professor of composition at the Moscow Conservatory of Music (where every single significant Muscovite composer were under his guidance) and his friendship with Prokofiev, who benefited from his advice especially after his return to Soviet Russia by 1936. As a composer, he's chiefly remembered for his Cello Concerto and to some extent his 21st Symphony. But, unless you're a listener more familiar with Myaskovsky, you'll realize much more facets he has to offer. The truth is that Myaskovsky comes across as a composer with depth and substance, capable of moving the subconscious in ways that are reflective and memorable. His slow movements are clearly his best: deep, usually melancholic and poetic, sometimes philosophical, with ideas more clearly poignant and wrought. Myaskovsky was neither a Soviet Realist composer or a highly defiant one in veins similar to Shostakovich or Prokofiev (and to some extent Shebalin). He was really a quietist, a sort of a 20th Century Piotr Illyich Tchaikovsky who was, in terms of mannerism and musical thought, went neither here nor there, and rather unapologetic in maintaining the profound virtues of musical art deeply rooted in Russian music while not paying much lip service to the Socialist Realist policies. Composers around him (Shebalin, Khachaturian, Nikolai Peiko, Boris Tchaikovsky, et al.) learned a good deal from his stance. As you've probably seen in this series thus far, the composer have a number of tricks up his sleeve; he can be surprisingly vivid and imaginative. On the debit side, however, he, on occasions, can come across as dull and, in other places, melodramatic (especially aided by the sometimes turgid scoring). And where some of his music begs for redundancy, some others do not go quite far enough. Furthermore, although the composer was eminently resourceful and somewhat enterprising, his thematic invention tends to run thin most particularly in some of the finales of his large-scaled works. But make no mistake about it, serious critics and listeners especially in Soviet Russia deemed Myaskovsky as among the most significant of Soviet composers (and the most significant of symphonists) with good, legitimate, even compelling reasons. The two works on this disc are in some ways different (yet in other ways similar). The First Symphony in C was completed in 1908 while a pupil at the St. Petersburg Conservatory. Already the work shows the composer of craftsmanship and serious music making. The dramatic, somewhat epic first movement are fingerprints for his later works. But the larghetto, second movement, shows the melancholic, poetic poignancy that becomes Myaskovsky's hallmark. Though the movement is not as great as the slow movements of his later works (and I'm thinking particularly of his 16th, 17th, 20th, and 27th Symphonies as well as the Cello Concerto and the 4th Piano Sonata), it have a good deal going for it. The 25th Symphony of 1945 is a more mature work; from the warm, lucid, melancholic adagio first movement to the peaceful, moderato second movement to the energetic, somewhat inspirational-ending final movement (allegro impetuoso). It shares with the contemporaneous Cello Concerto the melancholic warmth and contemplation (especially the first movement), though not as finely wrought and soul searching. The Svetlanov performances of the works with the State Symphony Orchestra of Russia are authoritative and committed and the same is true for the rest of the volumes, though refinement is not always consistent (and the recording quality is generally good, though again in a rather mixed bag). But, whether you're a Myaskovsky fan or not, this upcoming 17 CD series is of high importance, not only because it confirms the historical contributions of Myaskovsky towards musical art in Soviet Russia, but it confirms his contributions in maintaining and, dare I say, enhancing the credibility of such an art that gave it at least an ounce of authenticity."