Some Interesting Music from a Russian Conductor
D. A Wend | Buffalo Grove, IL USA | 05/24/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"When the late Evgeny Svetlanov went on tour with the USSR Symphony Orchestra, I was certain to be a member of the audience. At one concert, a short piece by Maestro Svetlanov was played as an encore, and I enjoyed this music that sounded much like Khachaturian. So, I was interested in this disc when it came to my attention. This CD holds three works by the conductor, including a piano concerto where Svetlanov is the soloist with Maxim Shostakovich as conductor.
The work I like best on this disc are the Preludes - Symphonic Reflections. This is a suite of six movements that is a theme (the Dies irae) and variations. The Red Guelder-Rose was based on a novel by Vasily Shushkin and attracted Svetlanov's attention when a film was mode of the novel. The music is moody beginning with a quiet introduction that very slowly builds toward an agitated and tragic climax. The Dies irae is used in the last section of the work to describe the death of the protagonist of the novel, and the music quietly fades away.
I regret to say that the Piano Concerto, the work I was most interested in hearing, did not meet my expectations. Svetlanov describes it as "experimental" but the music stuck me as a mixture of Ravel and Khachaturian with long-winded melodies; the brilliance was lacking and the music itself did not seem to go anywhere. The piano writing struck me as somewhat aimless and at one point bravura writing just for a splash effect.
The music is nicely recorded but I would recommend the disc only to the curious.