Notes and Editorial Reviews
The Naxos series of Glazunov orchestral works reaches volume 19 with this disc. Composed by Glazunov in 1898 Ruses is also known as The Trial of Damis. This disc is a reissue originally released on Marco Polo 8.220485.
Glazunov was a precocious student of Rimsky-Korsakov during the artistic ferment of the revival of Russian musical nationalism. Composed when he was a sixteen year old Glazunov gained sudden acclaim with the success of his Symphony No. 1. The audience would have been shocked when Glazunov took his bow at the premiere wearing his school uniform. International recognition was established with his symphonies, the tone poem Stenka Razin, the ballets The Seasons and Raymonda, and the ever popular Violin Concerto. He
was still composing music in the manner of Rimsky, Anton Rubinstein and Tchaikovsky. His works soon became marginalised having failed to compete with the growing enthusiasm for progressive composers such as Schoenberg, Berg, Stravinsky and his own pupils Prokofiev and Shostakovich. After a century or so we should now be able to reassess Glazunov’s music for its innate qualities rather than be reference to the dynamic of the era in which it was written.
The première of the ballet Les Ruses d'amour was given in the small hall of the Hermitage Theatre, St. Petersburg in 1900. Marius Petipa provided the choreography. The leading dancers were the Italian prima ballerina assoluta Pierina Legnani and her Russian partner Pavel Gerdt. Briefly the story of Les Ruses d'amour centres on the role Isabella who is the daughter of a titled Lady. Isabella pretends to be a maid in a bid to test that the love of her fiancé the Marquis Damis is true and not driven simply by her wealth and status.
The popularity of Les Ruses d'amour has certainly not endured to the same degree as The Seasons and the longer Raymonda ballets that have remained on the fringes of the repertoire. Reasonably appealing, the music of Ruses d'amour is not as recognisable as Glazunov’s other ballets. The composer has not managed to achieve the same melodically memorable quality.
Showing a convincing enthusiasm the Romanian State Orchestra under Horia Andreescu provide creditable playing. I enjoyed the gentle and swaying lyricism of the Introduction and Scene I and in the Recitatif mimique the woodwind-infused music has a distinct bucolic feel. Melody after melody is released in the Sarabanda but the themes are typically unremarkable. One notices the childlike lyricism of the Danse des marionettes and Scenes IV and V are gentle and romantic. The movement Ballabile des paysans et des paysannes is infectious and energetic. I was struck by the soft and tender love music of Grand pas des fiancés which is sugar-coated with a gorgeous line for solo violin and cello. The engaging La Fricassée brings the score to an exciting and energetic conclusion.
Michael Cookson, MusicWeb International
Works on This Recording
Les ruses d'amour, Op. 61 by Alexander Glazunov
Iasi Moldava Philharmonic Orchestra
Written: 1898; Russia
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