It is often said that if Vasily Sergeyevich Kalinnikov had lived longer, he might have been numbered amongst the greatest Russian composers. Perhaps, though it's worth bearing in mind that by the time Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev and Shostakovich had reached Kalinnikov's fatal 35 years they had written considerably more of lasting value. No, it's fruitless to brood on what light have been; Kalinnikov's First Symphony is to be accepted for what it is: a fine example a Russian 'folk-song symphony', with all he strengths and weaknesses implied by that description—wonderful harmonies and orchestral colours, and irresistibly memorable tunes which don't always prove entirely amenable to the kind of development Kalinnikov expects of them. If it'sRead more approached with plenty of vigour and melodic sweep it can be really enjoyable: both Toscanini (dell'Arte—mono) and Svetlanov (EMI ASD3502, 8/78—nla), in their very different ways, drove the music hard—but it paid off; even the crude cyclicism of the later stages of the finale is carried forward by a strong current. But what Jarvi shows is that there's more than one way to approach this abundantly inventive score. His interpretation is subtler, and allows details more time to speak—it's lovely to hear the first movement's big tune breathing so freely (those repeated phrases can be wearing if insufficiently differentiated)—and for the first time the slow movement reminded me fleetingly of Borodin's musical landscapes; Toscanini and Svetlanov sound impatient after this.
Perhaps there is a greater sense of bracing momentum in Järvi's rivals, but it is the Jarvi that set me brooding on chord progressions and affecting turns of phrase. And he certainly obtains some powerful and moody playing from the SNO in the two early Glazunov pieces—the fine fill-ups for a highly enjoyable disc. Excellent recordings.
Spring, Op. 34by Alexander Glazunov Conductor:
Royal Scottish National Orchestra
Period: Romantic Written: 1891; Russia
Average Customer Review: ( 1 Customer Review )
A composer that should not be overlookedMarch 29, 2014By William Muthig (Milan, OH)See All My Reviews"Because Vasily Kalinnikov produced few orchestral works, he might be overlooked by many listeners. That is a mistake and anyone listening to his Symphony No. 1 will come away impressed. Not only is this symphony a remarkable work, the playing of the Scottish National Orchestra on this recording is excellent. Anyone looking for an introduction to Kalinnikov cannot go wrong making a purchase of this Chandos offering."Report Abuse
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