Notes and Editorial Reviews
A second‚ appetizing helping of Steinberg. The Second Symphony opens with a striking theme‚ again rather dark‚ and most arrestingly scored...Steinberg’s repertory of orchestral colours and textures is impressive and constantly changing.
The man who aroused the jealousy of Stravinsky (a fellow student of Rimsky Korsakov‚ and it was obvious which pupil the great man rated higher) and who attacked the ‘unhealthy’ music of his own most accomplished pupil‚ Shostakovich‚ turns out not to be the Glazunov and water pedant that we might have assumed. The works of his student years‚ like the Op 2 Variations‚ are predictable enough‚ though entertaining‚ resourceful and with hints of a burgeoning individuality – the slithery fugato
of Variation 6‚ the slow‚ dark introduction to the finale. Only six opus numbers later and those hints have matured: the Second Symphony opens with a striking theme‚ again rather dark‚ and most arrestingly scored‚ firstly in the depths (bassoons‚ contrabassoon‚ double basses) then rising to the light: oboe and upper strings. Steinberg’s repertory of orchestral colours and textures is impressive and constantly changing. Bright primary shades are rarer than dark‚ metallic or livid ones‚ and in combination with his frequent fraught or impassioned climaxes (often over scored) and his sometimes frenzied ostinatos they give the whole work a sombre‚ feverish quality. Not least in the finale‚ where slow and yearning chromatic music alternates with grimly powerful energy – a memory of the Franck symphony‚ very probably‚ but once or twice I wondered whether Shostakovich‚ despite Steinberg’s antipathy‚ hadn’t heard and stored away something of this conflict. It ends with a sombre chorale and tolling bells. I do hope this gloweringly original conservative wasn’t deprived of his character by the exigencies of the Soviet regime and that Järvi will continue to champion him. An extremely full blooded performance‚ finely recorded.
"The shimmering orchestration of Rimsky-Korsakov was not lost on him. The first movement's melodies slither chromatically past the ears. The second movement is a delightful Mendelssohn-gone-Russian fantasy, and the finale moves toward transcendence."
Sacramento News & Review
Works on This Recording
Variations, Op. 2 by Maximilian Steinberg
Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra
Date of Recording: 1998
Featured Sound Samples
Symphony no 2: I. Allegro moderato
Symphony no 2: II. Allegro non troppo
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