WGBH Radio WGBH Radio theclassicalstation.org

Rubinstein: Symphony No. 2 "Ocean"; Ballet Music From Feramors / Golovschin, Russian State Symphony Orchestra

Rubinstein / State Symphony Orchestra Of Russia
Release Date: 04/24/2012 
Label:  Delos   Catalog #: 2010   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Anton Rubinstein
Conductor:  Igor Golovschin
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Russian State Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 6 Mins. 

In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews



RUBINSTEIN Symphony No. 2, “Ocean” (original version). Feramors: Ballet Music Igor Golovchin, cond; St SO of Russia DELOS DRD 2010 (66:11)


Anton Rubinstein (1829–94) was an important figure in the musical life of 19th-century Russia. A virtuoso pianist whose technique reportedly rivaled that of Liszt, he also played a seminal role in the establishment of musicianship as a recognized profession in Russia, as the Read more founder and first director of the St. Petersburg Conservatory (the first such institution in the country). In that capacity he was a mentor to one of the conservatory’s first graduates, one P. I. Tchaikovsky. He was also the founder of the Russian Musical Society, the first public concert organization in the country. His legacy as a composer is more uncertain. A resolute opponent of attempts to create a specifically Russian musical idiom, he insisted on strict emulation of European forms and styles. Late in his career, however, his resistance apparently weakened, as evidenced by his Fifth Symphony of 1880, subtitled “Russian,” which opens with an apparent reference to Boris Godunov , incorporates Russian and other folk material, and has a definite ethnic flavor. Some of his other orchestral music strikes me as stylistically bland, excessively repetitious, and meandering, of intermittent interest at best. I find him more consistently persuasive as a composer for his own instrument, as demonstrated by Leslie Howard’s traversal of the four piano sonatas (Hyperion). His best-known opera, The Demon , made little impression when I saw it in Russia several decades ago, but I now find it much more compelling in a fine 1974 Melodiya recording led by Boris Khaikin.


Rubinstein composed his “Ocean” Symphony in 1851 as a four-movement work but later added three additional movements, expanding the symphony to an epic length befitting its subject and temporarily abandoning his adherence to standard symphonic form. The four movements of the original became movements 1, 5, 4, and 7 of the expanded version. Rubinstein added a lengthy, rather Lisztian Lento assai (at 18–19 minutes the longest of the movements), an Andante, and a rollicking Scherzo as movements 2, 3, and 6. The result is an enjoyable, entertaining work, although one that suffers from this composer’s characteristic prolixity. The performances on this Delos disc were recorded in 1993 and previously issued on a Russian Disc CD, which was reviewed by John Baumann in Fanfare 17:6. Baumann’s verdict on the symphony performance was unfavorable, his chief criticisms being use of the shorter (and in his opinion less effective) original version and lethargic tempos, resulting in “a lack of the kinetic energy that is needed to make this symphony cohesive and powerful.” The expanded version is available inexpensively on a Naxos disc, with Stephen Gunzenhauser leading the Slovak Philharmonic. Besides the additional music, that recording offers a much more taut and urgent rendition, although one that sometimes seems overdriven and faster than the tempo markings appear to authorize. Overall, however, I concur with Baumann’s judgment that the Gunzenhauser recording makes a better case for the shared movements, and the additional ones are worth having, especially the stormy Lento assai.


At 73 minutes, the expanded version of the symphony fills the entire Naxos disc, but Delos has space for a ballet suite from Rubinstein’s 1862 opera Feramors , which to my knowledge has never been recorded in its entirety. Even the ballet suite is currently not otherwise available on CD. I have no information on the opera’s plot, except that it involves an oriental subject. The first of the four movements in the suite, “Dance of the Bayaderes I,” strikes me as fairly generic 19th-century ballet music. The following “Dance of the Kashmiri Brides” is more interesting and inventive and suggestive of the oriental dances in Tchaikovsky’s ballets (or perhaps in this case it is Tchaikovsky who sounds like his mentor). The next number, “Dance of the Bayaderes II,” also anticipates Tchaikovsky, while the final “Wedding Procession” shows Glinka’s influence. Golovchin’s comparatively reticent leadership is effective enough in this music, although greater energy and rhythmic lift might render the opening number more compelling, and more exuberance would be desirable in the second Bayadere dance. The orchestra plays proficiently.


The sound of the Delos reissue is pretty good, although a bit distant and opaque, and definitely preferable to the excessively close-up and overly bright sound characteristic of many older Russian recordings. Incidentally, the name of conductor Golovchin has also been spelled “Golovschin” on the numerous Naxos discs on which he appears. Based on the Russian spelling, “Golovchin” is more correct.


I recommend the Gunzenhauser recording for the “Ocean” Symphony and the Golovchin effort for the Feramors Suite. Neither piece is a major work, but both can give pleasure and are of value especially to those interested in the history of Russian music.


FANFARE: Daniel Morrison
Read less

Works on This Recording

1. Symphony no 2 in C major, Op. 42 "Ocean" by Anton Rubinstein
Conductor:  Igor Golovschin
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Russian State Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1851/1880; Russia 
Date of Recording: 1993 
Venue:  Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory, R 
Length: 47 Minutes 0 Secs. 
2. Feramors: Dance of the Bayaderes no 1 by Anton Rubinstein
Conductor:  Igor Golovschin
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Russian State Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1862; Russia 
Date of Recording: 1993 
Venue:  Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory, R 
Length: 5 Minutes 1 Secs. 
3. Feramors: Dance of the Kashmiri Brides by Anton Rubinstein
Conductor:  Igor Golovschin
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Russian State Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1862; Russia 
Date of Recording: 1993 
Venue:  Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory, R 
Length: 5 Minutes 2 Secs. 
4. Feramors: Dance of the Bayaderes no 2 by Anton Rubinstein
Conductor:  Igor Golovschin
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Russian State Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1862; Russia 
Date of Recording: 1993 
Venue:  Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory, R 
Length: 4 Minutes 32 Secs. 
5. Feramors: Bridal Procession by Anton Rubinstein
Conductor:  Igor Golovschin
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Russian State Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1862; Russia 
Date of Recording: 1993 
Venue:  Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory, R 
Length: 3 Minutes 51 Secs. 

Sound Samples

Symphony No. 2 in C major, Op. 42, "Ocean" (1851 version): I. Allegro maestoso
Symphony No. 2 in C major, Op. 42, "Ocean" (1851 version): II. Adagio non tanto
Symphony No. 2 in C major, Op. 42, "Ocean" (1851 version): III. Allegro
Symphony No. 2 in C major, Op. 42, "Ocean" (1851 version): IV. Adagio - Allegro con fuoco
Feramors: Dance of the Bayaderes No. 1
Feramors: Torchlight Dance of the Brides of Kashmir
Feramors: Dance of the Bayaderes No. 2
Feramors: Bridal Procession

Customer Reviews

Be the first to review this title
Review This Title
Review This Title Share on Facebook