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Loshkin: Symphonies 5, 9 And 11 / Swierczewski

Release Date: 07/25/2006 
Label:  Bis   Catalog #: 1456   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Alexander Lokshin
Performer:  Ulrike MattanovichVahid Khadem-MissaghRuth WinklerJeffrey Black,   ... 
Conductor:  Michel Swierczewski
Orchestra/Ensemble:  recreation
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 7 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Alexander Lokshin wrote 11 symphonies, all but one of which include sung texts. He was without question a connoisseur of fine literature, and his choice of great poetry without regard to its acceptance by the Soviet authorities accounts for the fact that his compositional life was an extremely difficult one. The music too, while undoubtedly sensitive to the meaning of his texts, tends toward grimness. His models were Berg, Mahler, and in the overtly dissident Ninth Symphony, possibly Bartók and Shostakovich. The latter composer, the notes claim, attended the premiere in 1976 and studied the score with admiration, an interesting proposition as Shostakovich died in 1975. Never mind: it's an interesting piece, and the fourth movement Read more (toccata), which describes the torture of a prisoner, bears a strong resemblance to the second movement (Malagueña) of Shostakovich's 14th Symphony.

Symphony No. 5 is a two-movement setting for harp and strings of Shakespeare's Sonnets Nos. 66 and 73. The first of these, "Tir'd with all these, for restful death I cry", also displays thinly veiled criticism of the regime, and we can only admire Lokshin's courage in making these settings. Again, the music is angular but extremely responsive to the sense of the texts. Symphony No. 11 is a single-movement theme and variations that concludes with a setting for soprano (the other two works require a baritone) of Portuguese poet Luís de Camões' Sonnet No. 143, a beautiful poem about the sadness of loss amid the glories of nature. Although scored for a large chamber orchestra, with plentiful winds and percussion, Lokshin's handling of the ensemble is always characterized by extreme economy, and the total effect of the work is of bleakness relieved now and then by bursts of intense lyricism.

The performances are mostly quite good. Michel Swierzewski, at the helm of the stupidly named "recreation -- GROSSES ORCHESTER GRAZ" (whatever that's supposed to mean), secures confident playing that's sensitive to the music's chamber-like textures. I'm a bit less happy with the singing. Soprano Vanda Tabery does a fine job in Symphony No. 11, but baritone Jeffrey Black sounds curiously less comfortable singing in English than he does in Russian. In Symphony No. 5, his artificial diction risks making Shakespeare's texts sound ridiculous--to the extent that we can understand them at all. Still, we're not likely to enjoy much competition in this music, and when he's not being overtly declamatory, Black's rich timbre suits the music well. The sonics also are uniformly superb. This is difficult, thought-provoking music, and an interesting artifact of the Soviet era. Whether it has greater staying power, only time will tell.

--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

Symphony no 5 "Shakespeare Sonnets" by Alexander Lokshin
Performer:  Ulrike Mattanovich (Harp), Vahid Khadem-Missagh (Violin), Ruth Winkler (Cello),
Jeffrey Black (Baritone)
Conductor:  Michel Swierczewski
Orchestra/Ensemble:  recreation
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1969; USSR 
Length: 15 Minutes 41 Secs. 
Language: English 
Symphony no 9 by Alexander Lokshin
Performer:  Vahid Khadem-Missagh (Violin), Ruth Winkler (Cello), Jeffrey Black (Baritone)
Conductor:  Michel Swierczewski
Orchestra/Ensemble:  recreation
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1974; USSR 
Length: 28 Minutes 30 Secs. 
Language: Russian 
Symphony no 11 by Alexander Lokshin
Performer:  Ruth Winkler (Cello), Vanda Tabery (Soprano), Vahid Khadem-Missagh (Violin)
Conductor:  Michel Swierczewski
Orchestra/Ensemble:  recreation
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1976; USSR 
Length: 22 Minutes 48 Secs. 
Language: Portuguese 

Sound Samples

Symphony No. 5, "Shakespeare's Sonnets": I. Sonnet No. 66: Tir'd with all these, for restful death I cry
Symphony No. 5, "Shakespeare's Sonnets": II. Sonnet No. 73: That time of year thou mayst in me behold
Symphony No. 9: I. Introduzione
Symphony No. 9: II. Burlesca
Symphony No. 9: III. Marcia
Symphony No. 9: IV. Toccata
Symphony No. 9: V. Finale
Symphony No. 11: Introduzione
Symphony No. 11: Tema
Symphony No. 11: Variation 1
Symphony No. 11: Variation 2
Symphony No. 11: Variation 3
Symphony No. 11: Variation 4
Symphony No. 11: Variation 5
Symphony No. 11: Variation 6
Symphony No. 11: Variation 7
Symphony No. 11: Variation 8
Symphony No. 11: Coda

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