GLAZUNOV: Symphony No. 1, in E major, Op. 5 (Slavyanskaya).
Symphony No. 4, in E-flat major, Op. 48 (sometimes called Lyrical).
Moscow Symphony Orchestra, Alexander Anissimov/cond.
Naxos 8.553561 [B][DDD] [TT: 69:52]
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In 1881 Glazunov was just 16 when he wrote the first of eight completed symphonies, and straightaway found himself classified as a prodigy in the Mozart and Mendelssohn mold. The comparison did not overstate young Glazunov's credentials at the time, given that Mozart didn't break through received conventions until he was 17, in the "Early" G-minor Symphony (neither No. 25 nor K. 183, although it is traditionally labeled as such) . Nor did 15-year-old Mendelssohn, in his First Symphony, pace the pack until A Midsummer Night's Dream Overture two years later.
Glazunov's first symphonic essay is charmingly youthful---in four movements with a Scherzo in second place (the bequest of Berlioz in his Symphonie fantastique of 1830 rather than of Robert Schumann in his Second Symphony later on). It incorporates a Polish melody in the Trio of the second movement, and boasts a pretty slow movement. The finale brings back materials from earlier movements, including the Polish tune, which leads to a rousing conclusion. Anissimov, with the same orchestra he led in Naxos'earlier coupling of Symphonies 2 and 7, as well as in the ballets Raymonda and The Seasons, takes a genial and unhurried view, although not laggard, in contrast to Neeme J”rvi in his Bavarian Radio version on Orfeo (coupled with Symphony No. 5). J”rvi's, however, is otherwise a familiarly generic reading pushed smartly along ---typical of so many of the hundred–and-some recordings of anything he's asked to do.
Symphony No. 4 didn't come along until 1893, following a "creative crisis," but proved worth the wait. It has just three movements, the first and last of which are Andantes followed by Allegros in personalized sonata-form. In between, a very delicately scored Scherzo incorporates hunting horns. Anissimov shapes all of this with a sense of proportion as well as affection, and has been sonorously abetted by Betta Inc., which produced his several Glazunov recordings in 1995-96. On Orfeo, J”rvi holds forth as if from a bully pulpit (this one in Bamberg), with Symphony No. 7 as his coupling. At less than half the price, Naxos' series from Moscow is the better bargain, only a smidge shy of being a steal.