Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Myaskovsky, Ivashkin, Polyansky|
Symphony 27 / Cello Concerto
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Georgeous Russian Late Romanticism
Thomas F. Bertonneau | Oswego, NY United States | 10/29/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Connoisseurs of Russian, or more properly, of Soviet music will recognize the name of Nicolai Miaskovsky and will likely know his somber, beautiful Concerto for Cello and Orchestra, roughly coeval with although slightly earlier than Prokofiev's Sinfonia Concertante. Miaskovsky's Cello Concerto has enjoyed a number of recordings since Rostropovich recorded it for EMI in the early 1960s and has rarely been out of the catalogue. Miaskovsky's symphonies (he wrote twenty-seven of them) are a different matter, despite the fact that they represent his main achievement. Only one, the Twenty-First, a one-movement affair requiring about fifteen minutes in performance, has ever gained anything like currency in the West. Frederick Stock gave the premiere in Chicago in 1940; Ormandy recorded it, and it appeared on a Unicorn LP in the late 1970s in a performance under David Measham. A few Melodiya recordings made their way to North American in the 1960s and 70s, most prominently a rendition under Svetlanov of the Twenty-Second, a "war symphony" full of alternating melancholy and strife, with prominent and impressive parts for the horns. More recently, Marco Polo has offered a handful of the symphonies, as has Russian Disc; the lamentably defunct Classical Revelation label also included several Miaskovsky symphonies in its rich, if evanescent catalogue. Despite this, Miaskovsky has been something of a rare bird among important names in Soviet symphonism. All the more then is Valeri Polyansky's new disc from Chandos a welcome one, for it gives us not only superb rendering of the Cello Concerto but something close to a recorded premiere of Miaskovsky's last symphony, the Twenty-Seventh, from 1950, the year of his death. Polyansky has been active under a Chandos contract for some years now, offering representations of Rachmaninov, Glazunov, and Shostakovich: the foray into Miaskovsky is a natural furtherance of his survey of Muscovite and Petersburger music of the pre-revolutionary through the totalitarian periods. Miaskovsky was a remarkably consistent composer, finding his style while still a conservatory student. The idiom lies somewhere between the Rachmaninov and Scriabin: basically tonal and late-Romantic, with an interest, now greater and now lesser, in chromatic extensions of the harmony in the manner of "The Divine Poem." A Russian accent is always noticeable. Miaskovsky has a preference, like Rachmaninov, for minor modes and dark colors: these appear in his First Symphony, written under the supervision of Gliere in 1905, and they are still present forty-five years later in the Twenty-Seventh, although the outlines are now leaner, the sense of form more acute. There was once a Melodiya LP of the Twenty-Seventh, with Alexander Gauk leading the USSR Symphony Orchestra, from a master tape recorded in 1950. I have remembered the Twenty-Seventh (in C Minor) from that scratchy and dim LP although it disappeared when I discarded my "record library" twelve or fifteen years ago. Polyansky's new performance confirms what my memory told me: A brooding, lyrical motto, first heard in the low woodwinds, becomes the melodic touchstone of the whole symphony, which Miaskovsky casts in three movements; these are an Adagio - Allegro Animato, an Adagio, and a Presto non Troppo. Shostakovich reacted to Stalinism with irony; Miaskovsky reacts with nostalgia. Even the two outer, faster panels are full of folksong-like "song periods" similar to those in Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov. The return of the motto theme on flute at about 5.20 into the First Movement is a case in point. If the listener is neither wood nor stone then his heart shall melt. The Concerto for Cello and Orchestra, written during the war has preserved Miaskovsky's name in the recorded music catalogues since the mid-1950s, when the first of Rostropovich's traversals appeared. Just now there are two or three competing versions available. Alexander Ivashkin, who has also recorded the Schnittke concertos with Polyansky, has a warm and appealing tone that suits this slow and quiet music perfectly. This is a lovely recording - even the packaging is nice, with its autumn colors. Chandos scores another one. recommended."
Double standards for Myaskovsky?
Cheryomushki | Old Town, ME USA | 02/04/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In most customer reviews of twentieth-century American symphonies previously issued by Naxos (Creston, Rorem, Piston, etc.), emphasis is rightfully placed on how underrated composers and their symphonies have finally found an audience. Very positively, reviewers rate these new items with five stars on the basis of a composer's solid symphonic contributions to Americana and of the intrinsic achievements of conductors and orchestras from Albany, New York, to the Ukraine.
I discern a somewhat different approach for foreign composer Nikolay Myakovsky and several of his symphonies, including his last one, the 27th, currently available only (or mainly) on Chandos. Notwithstanding Myaskovsky's contagious lyricism and his undeniable experience as the author of so many symphonies (six or seven times more than the above mentioned composers), assessment of his recordings are all too often scaled down by one or two stars because: he did not fully develop a promising theme; the orchestra does not quite measure up to the historical performance of one of Russia's foremost orchestras; the conductor did not completely emulate a great maestro; the cellist had the difficult task of performing in the shadow of the great Mstislav Rostropovich, and so forth.
But what about the intrinsic qualities and strengths of this Chandos recording? Conductor Valeri Polyansky perfectly succeeds in guiding the Russian State Symphony Orchestra from the two, lyrical and dramatic themes, of the first movement, through the elegiac heights of the symphony's adagio --one of Myaskovsky's most beautiful symphonic adagios-- on to "the dramatic clash of opposing and irreconcilable forces" of the third movement and its finale. If this recording of the 27th symphony carries you on its wings as far and as high as it carries me, then why on earth worry about what one could be missing from another flight which has been grounded and cancelled!
By contrast, this Chandos CD also includes Myaskovsky's most frequently recorded work, his WWII-era Concerto for cello and orchestra. Music lovers who already own a Rostropovich, Tarasova or Webber version of this concerto should find little, if any reason to scale down Polyansky, the Russian State Symphony Orchestra, cellist Alexander Ivashkin or, for that matter, Russian composer Nikolay Myaskovsky even by half a star."
A Beautiful Disc
D. A Wend | Buffalo Grove, IL USA | 05/30/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Nikolay Myaskovsky was a pupil of Gliere, Rimsky-Korsakov and Lyadov, which is apparent in the Symphony No. 27 as it looks back to the music of the 19th century. The music, however much it recalls The Mighty Handful, belongs to Myaskovsky and the shattering atmosphere following the Zhandov Decree in 1947. The symphony was completed in 1950 but Myaskovsky dies before it could be performed; it won the Stalin Prize presented posthumously. Myaskovsky was criticized for the dark character of his symphonies. Cast in three movements, the symphony begins with am Adagio that is quickly transformed into a lyrical melody that recalls Rachmaninov. The center Adagio movement of the 27th has its dark clouds but they are ultimately lifted by the stunning melody. The final movement is a march that brings to mind Glazunov and Tchaikovsky.
The Cello Concerto deserves to be much better known and dates from 1944. The Concerto is a personal response to the war and reflects a greater lyricism than music that brashly describes a Soviet victory. The music is introspective and brilliantly written for the soloist. The cello engages in a dialogue with the orchestra reflecting exuberance against the constraining influence of the orchestra. The concerto opens and closes with the same quiet and reflective theme, and in between we find the exuberance in the face of anguish that eventually overcomes the brightness with melancholy. The concerto ends sweetly but with a feeling of deep longing and regret.
Both works are played to perfection by the Russian State Symphony Orchestra and Alexander Ivashkin is a marvelous soloist in the concerto. This is a great disc to choose to learn about the music of Myaskovsky.