GLAZUNOV: Raymonda, Op. 57. The Seasons. Ballet Suite. Romantic Intermezzo.
Solemn Overture March on Russian Theme. Ballade. From
the Middle Ages.
Fortune-Telling and Dance. Song of Fate. Two Preludes. To
the Memory of N. Gogol. Finnish Fantasia. Finish Sketches. Introduction and Salome's
Dance. Solemn Procession. Theme with Variations. Karelian Legend.
GLAZUNOV: Overture No. 1 on Greek Themes. Overture No. 2 on
Greek Themes. To
the Memory of a Hero. Lyrical Poem. Stenka Razin. Characteristic
No.1, Op. 7. Serenade
No. 2, Op. 11.Two Pieces. Mazurka. Characteristic Dance. Volga Boatman
Song. Forest. Sea.Oriental Rhapsody. Wedding Procession. Slavonic Festival.
Spring. Triumphal March. Carnival. Solemn Procession. From Darkness to
Light.Chopiniana. Concert Waltz No. 1. Concert Waltz No. 2. Waltz.
Waltz. Polonaise. Waltz. Lady-soubrette, Op. 61.
GLAZUNOV: Symphony No. 1 in E, Op. 5. Symphony No. 2 in F sharp
minor, Op. 16. Symphony No. 3 in D, Op .33. Symphony No. 4 in E flat,
Op. 48. Symphony No. 5 in B flat, Op. 55. Symphony No. 6 in C minor,
Op. 58. Symphony No. 7 in F, Op. 77. Symphony No. 8 in E flat, Op.
83. Kremlin (symphonic picture), Op. 30.
Evgeny Svetlanov (1928-2992) was an extraordinary musician, known primarily as a conductor but he also was a pianist and composer. Favored by the Soviet government, he recorded profusely including many obscure works by Russian composers. Fortunately for collectors, most of his recordings are now being reissued in The Anthology of Russian Symphony Music. These apparently are provided by the Evgeny Svetlanov Archives. Many of these have been issued on other labels (particularly Melodiya) but most have been deleted; thus this new series is doubly welcome. The remasterings sound better than original LP and CD releases. It is unfortunate that these reissues are full price, particularly because documentation on the new issues is woefully inadequate. An article on the conductor is repeated in each set, but program notes are minimal, and although content listings are given in both Russian and English no information is provided as to recording dates or venues—it is unclear which orchestra is playing each work. Most doubtless are with the USSR Symphony Orchestra. The three big sets devoted to Glazunov (a total of 18 CDs), are of major importance as they are authoritative, imaginative performances of music for the most part neglected today. We have all eight symphonies, and all of Glazunov's ballet music. Raymonda is with the Bolshoi Orchestra (not clarified in the notes) and this grand ballet is given a magnificent performance—what a superb composer and brilliant orchestrator Glazunov was! Both Raymonda and The Seasons are Tchaikovskian in scope, with one glorious tune following another. Many of Glazunov's lesser-known works are here and now we have the opportunity to hear them; many are only recordings.
The 4-disk set featuring music of Sergey Taneyev (1856-1915) and Alexander Dmitrievich Kastalsky (1856-1926) is particularly disappointing in documentation. Nothing is said about Taneyev, who was a student of Tchaikovsky, but wrote with a more academic approach. Tanayev was a friend of Tchaikovsky and was soloist in all premiere performances his works for piano and orchestra. Apparently Tanayev had quite a sense of humor: among his unpublished works are various parodies including Quartets of Government Officials, toy symphonies, and a mock ballet for Tchaikovsky's birthday. It's unfortunate some of these weren't recorded by Svetlanov (or were they?). Instead we have his best-known work, the Suite for Violin and Orchestra, a specialty of David Oistrakh (who recorded it twice), more recently by Lydia Mordkovich (REVIEW), and his best-known and last symphony, No. 4, composed in 1898. The major work is the Cantata No. 2, "At the Reading of a Psalm," scored for large chorus and orchestra plus soloists, a major choral work that has been unjustly neglected. Several years ago, Pentatone released a magnificent recording conducted by Mikhail Pletnev (REVIEW) Svetlanov's recording is of equal merit but cannot match the sonic splendor of the Pentatone issue, which is one of the finest SACD issues on that label. Of equal interest on disk four in this new set, devoted to music of Alexander Kastalsky (1856-1926), is his impressive Brotherly Prayer for the Dead, a grand scale choral epic in which you will hear traces of Boris Godunov composed more than three decades earlier. This is from a live concert of unidentified date and site, with an audience that only occasionally is evident. This is a fascinating work that deserves to be heard. The CD booklet doesn't identify any of the fine soloists, and of course there is no text.
In spite of inadequate documentation—and high price—many collectors will wish to investigate these intriguing issues.
R.E.B. (June 2009)