Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Glazunov, José Serebrier|
Symphony No 8 in E Flat / Op 83 / Raymonda Suite
In Dealing with Glazunov's most profound utterance, Serebrie
David A. Hollingsworth | Washington, DC USA | 11/02/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"As I've hoped (somewhat) in reviewing Serebrier's breathtakingly unique approaches to the great Russian's Fifth Symphony and "Vremena Goda" ("The Seasons") last year, Serebrier and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra comes up with the music for "Raymonda (not the full ballet score mind you, but the suite Alexander Glazunov arranged soon after he completed the music). Quite frankly, the recording of the suite is not entirely necessary since we still have Neemi Jarvi's more rounded version of it (and it still sounds great even now). With that said, the sweet-toothed delights of the music glows on Serebrier's performance especially in the `Salle dans le chateau de Raymonda' divertissement of Act I as well as in Entr'acte of Scene II. I think the harpist sounds a tad too distant and uninvolving in the Prelude et La Romanesca and Prelude et Variation movements. Nevertheless, there's alot of enjoyment and idiosyncrasies in their playing that thirty-minutes feels too short. The selected divertissements of Act II are likewise well done and I admire how poetic they are in Act III's Entr'acte "Triomphe de l'amour et fete nuptiale." I only wish that the coda that ends Act II would've been added and inserted right before the Entr'acte. Otherwise, although Jarvi has the edge, it's a pleasing half-hour worth of listening nonetheless.
The Eighth Symphony (1903-1905) is the main attraction, however, and the more I listen to this piece, the more I find its significance in Russian music (and music beyond Russia). It is to my mind the composer's most profound utterance, with the outer movements with some optimism though in ways that are not at all easy-going or as crystal clear. For example, listen to how the first movement begins confidently. But as the movement gets going, there's something troubling and disturbing in some of its articulacy. The level of optimism is not the same as, say, in his Fifth Symphony. Even the finale doesn't have the typical Glazunovian robustness (or rodomontade) that we're grown somewhat accustomed to (it took quite some time for it to become uplifting and even that isn't so easy going as well). Clearly the conditions and events of leading up to 1905 and beyond affected Glazunov perhaps to the point that he himself couldn't have foreseen. And you'll see that in the middle movements of the Symphony, which to my mind form the core, the very heart of the work. The gravity of anguish in the Mesto movement is profound (not as deep as in Tchaikovsky's Pathetique Symphony, but tellingly and compellingly sombre enough) and the climax, which reprises the beginning material of the movement, is remarkable for its depth and poignancy of despair. The Scherzo (a rondo in essence), likewise, has less charm than the previous scherzi of Glaznunov's symphonies (diabolical his adopted daughter Elena Glazunov-Gunther called it). It's quite menacing with its swirling passages of the strings especially towards the conclusion that's fierce in temperament. Serebrier and his Scottish forces go to the very skeleton of the work, relishing every troubling aspects of the work to convincing results. I do miss a slightly greater sense of gravity in places in the Mesto movement in ways Polyansky relinquishes in his Chandos recording (or Rozhdestvensky in the original Melodiya). Even in the first movement does Polyansky paints a darker side of it a tad more deeply than Serebrier. However, I am awed at the maestro's take of the Scherzo, which is warm yet highly electric while his approach of the finale is admirable (a questionable timpani playing at the ending though).
In all, an appealing album that is successfully recorded (more so than in the aforementioned Chandos), very well presented (with Andrew Huth's revelatory essay), and consistently and uniquely well-played throughout. It may not be the 'must have' album for every serious collector, but with Serebrier's idiomatic angles and approaches that yield other facets especially of the Symphony, it's quite difficult to imagine this album being pushed aside and ignored.