C. P. E. BACH: Solo Keyboard Music - Volume 38
Miklós Spányi, harpsichord
BIS CD 2337 TT: 78:35

TABAKOV: Concerto for Double Bass and Orchestra. Symphony No. 5
Entcho Radoukanov, double bass. Symphony Orchestra of Bulgarian National Radio / Emil Tabakov, cond.

MYASKOVSKY: Symphony No. 1. Symphoy No. 13.
Ural Youth Symphony Orchestra / Alexander Rudin, cond.
NAXOS 8.573988 TT: 58:26

Here is another issue in the commendable BIS series of complete keyboard works of C. P, E. Bach. This is Volume 38! Miklós Spányi is the dedicated performer in this collection of 24 tracks of short early works as well as 20 tracks devoted to Bach's Variations on a Theme by Locatelli. Immaculate playing, beautiful natural audio.

Bulgarian composer Emil Tabakov (b. 1947) is a prolific composer as well as a conductor There are few recordings of his music and we are indebted to Toccata Classics for their attention to Tabakov. Here now is Volume 4 in their series. This site previously praised issues of Bulgarian Folk Dances and Symphony No. 9 (REVIEW), and Viola Concerto and Symphony No. 1 (REVIEW). Now we have his Double Bass Concerto written in 1975 as a "diploma work" for the Bulgarian Conservatory. It is dedicated to Tabakov's double bass teacher, Todor Toshev. Soloist at the premiere was Entcho Radoukanov, who is soloist on this recording, this time with the composer conducting. The 21-minute concerto has three movements and with the exception of the middle movement is agitated and aggressive with many percussive effects. Symphony No. 5 was premiered in 2000 with the composer conducting. The first movement of this 54-minute work begins with blazing brass fanfares, and tragic dissonance persists. The Largo is placid with softly tolling bells, and the third movement is a bizarre explosive march. The finale movement is a huge dissonant highly percussive march reminiscent of Shostakovich. Performances surely are authoritative, audio quality not state-of-the-art but good enough to convey these important scores. I look forward to future releases in the series.

Nikolai Myaskovsky (1881 - 1950) is known as the ‘father of the Soviet symphony." He wrote 27 of them, and based on what is heard on this new disk of Symphonies 1 and 15, it is difficult to understand why he is judged so highly. Symphony No. 1 was written in 1908 and revised in 1921. Symphony No 15 dates from 1933. Both are among the most boring symphonic works I have ever heard; nothing happens, they just go on and on. Evgeny Svetlanov felt Myaskovsky was a major composer (Russian loyalty?) and recorded most of his symphonic works; many of these are currently available. Other major conductors have avoided this Russian's music, although Morton Gould recorded Symphony No. 21 with the Chicago Symphony. The excellent Ural Youth Orchestra does what can be done for this music, with Alexander Rudin directing. Recordings were made in Russia's Yekaterinburg Philharmonic Hall last year, and audio is fine.

R.E.B. (August 2019)