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8.220217 - IPPOLITOV-IVANOV: Symphony No. 1 / Turkish Fragments
Mikhail Mihaylovich Ippolitov-Ivanov was born at Gatchina, near St. Petersburg, in 1859 and studied music at home, before entering the St. Petersburg Conservatory in 1875. He was a pupil of Rimsky-Korsakov and after completing his studies was appointed director of the music school and conductor of the opera in Tblisi (Tiflis) in Georgia. It was during his eleven years residence there that he was able to make a study of the music of the region, on which he published an authoritative survey.
In 1893 Ippolitov-Ivanov became a professor at the Moscow Conservatory, of which he was director from 1905 until 1924. His career involved him in busy activity as a conductor for a number of opera companies, and, in later years, in work for the radio and in journalism. He maintained an interest in oriental music, and particularly in the music of ethnic minorities in the Soviet Union, while preserving the harmonic vocabulary and compositional techniques he had acquired as a student.
In the musical politics of his country Ippolitov-Ivanov remained generally uninvolved. He was president of the Society of Writers and Composers in 1922, and when he left Moscow Conservatory in 1924, he returned to Georgia to superintend the musical life of the newly established Georgian Republic. He died in Moscow in January, 1935.
Ippolitov-Ivanov's Symphony No. 1 in E minor, Opus 46, was written in 1908 and dedicated to the Caucasian musician Vasily Il'ich Safonov, the son of a Cossack general, and director of the Moscow Conservatory in succession to S.I. Taneyev in 1889, later being appointed director of the National Conservatory of Music in New York, a position once held by Dvorák. Ippolitov-Ivanov was Safonov's immediate successor as director of the Moscow Conservatory, the latter feeling himself out of sympathy with his students, affected by the political restlessness of the period.
The first movement opens with a slow introduction, followed by an Allegro, the first subject contrasted with a less restless clarinet melody. The music is in the usual symphonic first movement form, ending with the return of the opening Adagio.
The Scherzo, in C major, is introduced by slower chords and a curious melodic figure that soon leads us into the moto perpetuo of the violins. The Trio, in E major, offers a contrast of mood and texture, before the repetition of the Scherzo.
Clarinets and bassoons announce the opening melody of the Elegia, accompanied by a chorus of strings, suggesting the solemnity of the Russian liturgy. This is followed by a Finale in which the principal subject is passed from wind to strings and back, before the appearance of other material, a folk-song that seems strangely familiar, and a later brief excursion into a thoroughly Russian piece of wind writing.
In later life Ippolitov-Ivanov took an increasing interest in the folk-music of Turkish peoples, the music of the Uzbek, Kazakh and Turkmen, as well as that of the Western Turks and of the Arabs. The Turkish Fragments, Opus 62, were written in 1930, and offer four orchestral sketches, using material of Turkish folk origin. The work is scored for a large orchestra, and is dedicated to the Azerbaijani soprano, Shevket Mamedova, one of the leading figures in the opera in Baku.
The first of the fragments, Caravan, sets a characteristic Turkish melody in illustration of the progress of the caravan, contrasted with a middle section that offers more varied material. The second piece, At Rest, has an outer framework of rhythmic tranquillity, and a central section of a much livelier kind.
A similar three-part structure is used for the third of the fragments, Night, where the cor anglais at first offers a Turkish melody, followed by one of those even more characteristic oriental turns of phrase, that must recall Rimsky-Korsakov.
The Turkish Fragments end with a Festival, a lively dance tune appearing above a constantly reiterated rhythmic figure in the bass. It makes a satisfactorily animated conclusion to the short suite.
The Turkish March, published in Moscow in 1932, is couched in the conventional harmonic terms that were part of Ippolitov-Ivanov's usual musical vocabulary. The march includes melodic material that has hints of an even more popular Turkish origin.
Choo Hoey's début was in 1958, with the Belgian National Orchestra. He has appeared with many famous European orchestras, including the London Symphony Orchestra, the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the Orchestre de la Société du Conservatoire and the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande.
Since 1979 Choo Hoey has been Resident Conductor and Music Director of the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, and has continued to appear in Europe as a guest conductor, as well as accepting invitations to conduct other orchestras in Asia, including the Hong Kong Philharmonic and the China Philharmonic in Beijing.
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