About this Recording
8.553838 - GLAZUNOV, A.K.: Orchestral Works, Vol. 6 - Carnaval / Spring / Salome / Concert Waltzes (Moscow Symphony, Golovschin)
English 

Alexander Konstantinovich Glazunov (1865 -1936) Overture: Carnaval, Op

Alexander Konstantinovich Glazunov (1865 -1936)

 

Overture: Carnaval, Op. 45

Spring, Op. 34

Concert Waltz No.1, Op. 47

Concert Waltz No.2, Op. 51

Salome: Introduction and Dance, Op. 90

 

Alexander Konstantinovich Glazunov has not fared well at the hands of later critics. He enjoyed a remarkably successful career in music, becoming Director of the St Petersburg Conservatory in 1905 in the aftermath of the political disturbances of that year, and retaining the position, latterly in absentia, for the next twenty-five years. His earlier compositions were well received, but the very facility that had attracted the attention and friendship of his teacher Rimsky-Korsakov was to be held against him. A Russian critic could praise him for the reconciliation he had apparently effected between the Russian music of his time and the music of Western Europe, but for a considerable time the Soviet authorities regarded his music as bourgeois, while one of the most eminent of writers in the West on Russian music, Gerald Abraham, considered that it had fallen to Glazunov to lead what he described as the comfortable decline of Russian music into ignominious mediocrity. Recent critics have occasionally taken a more balanced view of Glazunov's achievement. Due respect is paid to his success in bringing about a synthesis of Russian and Western European music, the tradition of the Five and that of Rubinstein. Boris Schwarz has summarised the composer's career neatly, allowing him to have been a composer of imposing stature and a stabilising influence in a time of transition and turmoil.

 

Born in St Petersburg in 1865, the son of a publisher and bookseller, as a child Glazunov showed considerable ability in music and in 1879 met Balakirev, who encouraged the boy to broaden his general musical education, while taking lessons from Rimsky-Korsakov. By the age of sixteen he had completed the first of his nine symphonies, a work that was performed in 1882 under the direction of Balakirev, and further compositions were welcomed by both factions in Russian musical life, the nationalist and the so-called German.

 

Glazunov continued his association with Rimsky-Korsakov until the latter's death in 1909. It was in his company that he became a regular member of the circle of musicians under the patronage of Belyayev, perceived by Balakirev as a rival to his own influence. Belyayev introduced Glazunov to Liszt, whose support led to the spread of the young composer's reputation abroad. The First Symphony was performed in Weimar in 1884, the Second directed by Glazunov at the 1889 Paris Exhibition. The Fourth and Fifth were introduced to the London public in 1897. In 1899 Glazunov joined the staff of the Conservatory in St Petersburg and in 1905, when peace was restored to the institution after student demonstrations, he became Director, a position he held, nominally at least, unti11930.

 

In 1928 Glazunov left Russia to fulfil concert engagements abroad, finally, in 1932, making his home in Paris, where he died four years later. These last years took him to a number of countries, where he conducted concerts of his own works. In England a reporter compared his appearance to that of a prosperous retired tea- planter, with his gold watch-chain spread across his starched white waistcoat, resembling, for all the world, a well-to-do bank-manager. His views on modern music were often severe. He found the Heldenleben of Richard Strauss disgusting and referred to the composer as cet infilme scribouilleur. Of Stravinsky he remarked that he had irrefutable proof of the inadequacy of his ear. Nevertheless it was under his direction that the Conservatory produced a number of very distinguished musicians. While Prokofiev did little to endear himself to Glazunov, Shostakovich received considerable encouragement and was unstinting in his admiration of the older composer as a marked influence on all the students with whom he had contact, to whom Glazunov was a living legend.

 

Glazunov wrote his Carnaval Overture in 1892, dedicating it to Herman Laroche, a well known champion of Tchaikovsky and opponent of the new Russian School that Balakirev had nurtured. The overture is scored for a large orchestra, with he optional use of an organ in a central section marked Moderato. The work is in broadly classical form, with contrasting melodic material, a lilting F major principal theme and a more gently lyrical secondary theme in C major. This is developed before its final return.

 

The musical picture The Spring (Vesna) was written in 1891. A rhapsodic work, it is prefaced by a poem on the subject by Fyodor Tyuchev, translator of Schelling, Heine, Goethe and Schiller, a poet associated with Pan-Slavism and described by Dostoyevsky as a philosopher-poet. The music brings the singing of birds in a gently breaking spring dawn, before mounting to a climax, the whole work colourfully orchestrated, a testimony to Glazunov's early skill.

 

The two Concert Waltzes, No.1 in D major and No.2 in F major, were written in 1893 and 1894 respectively, the first of them presented to Rimsky-Korsakov together with a copy of Glazunov's Chopiniana. Both works have enjoyed popularity, skilfully constructed, colourful in orchestration and showing the usual early technical command of musical resources.

 

Oscar Wilde's French play Salome attracted wide attention. In 1892 Sarah Bernhardt had planned and begun to rehearse a production in London, but the intervention of the Lord Chamberlain to prevent the appearance of biblical characters on the stage put a stop to this. Lord Alfred Douglas published an English translation in 1894, with illustrations by Aubrey Beardsley, but it was with the opera based on it by Richard Strauss in 1905 that the work reached the form in which it has exercised the greatest influence, allowing composers to explore realms of musical sensuality that would before have been unthinkable. The play deals with the supposed erotic desire of Herod for his step-daughter Salome, whose mother Herodias has killed her husband to become the wife of the King. Salome is fascinated by the captive John the Baptist, whom she desires and who rejects her advances. Demanding as a reward for her dance of the seven veils the head of the prophet, she passionately kisses the severed head, before Herod orders her own death. Glazunov's incidental music was written in 1908 and provides a portentous introduction and a dance of the seven veils of Polovtsian proportions.

 

Igor Golovschin

The Russian conductor Igor Golovschin was born in Moscow in 1956 and entered the piano class of the Special Music School at the age of six. In 1975 he joined the class of Kyril Kondrashin at the Moscow Conservatory and in 1981 joined the Irkutsk Symphony Orchestra, winning the Herbert von Karajan Conductors' Competition in the following year, followed in 1983 by victory in the Moscow National Conductors' Competition. Five years later he was invited to join the USSR State Symphony Orchestra, where he is assistant to Yevgeny Svetlanov. With this orchestra he has toured throughout Europe and as far afield as Japan.

Moscow Symphony Orchestra

The Moscow Symphony Orchestra was established in 1989 and is under the direction of the distinguished French musician Antonia de Almeida. The members of the orchestra include prize-winners and laureates of International and Russian music competitions, graduates of the conservatories of Moscow, Leningrad and Kiev, who have played under conductors such a Svetlanov, Rozhdestvensky, Mravinsky and Ozawa, in Russia and throughout the world. The orchestra toured in 1991 to Finland and to England, where collaboration with a well known rock band demonstrated readiness for experiment. A British and Japanese commission has brought a series of twelve television programmes for international distribution and in 1993 there was a highly successful tour of Spain. The Moscow Symphony Orchestra has a wide repertoire, with particular expertise in the performance of contemporary works.

 


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