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The Russian Symphonies and Orchestral Works segment catalogue throws us onto that huge, colourful canvas that is Russian orchestral music, stretching from the cosmopolitan foundations laid by the ever-popular, lyrical works by Tchaikovsky, right through to the contemporary landscape occupied by the symphonies of Alla Pavlova. Between those points in time, the boundless imagination of ancient folklore and the blunt realism of emerging political regimes are comprehensively represented in works that grew respectively against the backcloths of the Russian Empire and the Soviet era.

Check out the following selection of Russian symphonies and orchestral works, selected from our dedicated Segment Catalogue – click on the cover image to download complete catalogue.

Recent Releases

Naxos 8.572708
SHOSTAKOVICH, D.: Symphonies, Vol. 7
- Symphonies Nos. 2 and 15

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Choir and Orchestra, Petrenko


These two hugely contrasting symphonies come from the opposite ends of Shostakovich’s life and career. The Second Symphony was written to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Bolshevik October Revolution. Its advanced idiom of experimental textures and abstract effects can perhaps be best described as organised musical chaos. The Fifteenth was Shostakovich’s last symphony and is filled with remarkable contrasts, from the rollicking quotes from Rossini’s William Tell Overture and eerie references to Wagner’s Götterdämmerung and Tristan und Isolde, to the last and perhaps most imaginative of the composer’s symphonic passacaglias.

Naxos 8.573029
PROKOFIEV, S.: Year 1941 (The) / Symphony No. 5
Sao Paulo Symphony, Alsop


Written in 1944, Prokofiev’s Fifth Symphony is one of his greatest and most complete symphonic statements. At its première he himself called it “a symphony of the grandeur of the human spirit”. The first movement couples considerable strength with unexpected yet highly characteristic twists of melody. After a violent scherzo followed by a slow movement of sustained lyricism, with a fiercely dramatic middle section, the finale blazes with barely suppressed passion. The Year1941 is another wartime work, a symphonic suite written in response to the German invasion of the Soviet Union. This is the first volume a of complete cycle of the Prokofiev Symphonies with the OSESP and Marin Alsop, the orchestra’s newly appointed principal conductor.

Naxos 8.559706
BORZOVA, A.: Songs for Lada / To The New World
Fleer, Kozak, Michigan State University Children's Choir, Detroit Symphony, Slatkin

Born in Minsk, Belarus, Alla Borzova has received numerous prestigious awards for her highly imaginative music since moving to the United States in 1993. Songs For Lada is a theatrical cantata which explores the world of childhood through rhymes, dances and stories, illustrated by effects including folk instruments and birdsong. To The New World portrays an imaginary ship bearing immigrant groups whose traditional music suggests their thoughts and feelings at the prospect of joining the great cultural “melting pot” of America.

Naxos 8.501059
Various artists

The symphony came late to Russia. The first attempts at a Russian Nationalist symphony were made in the late nineteenth-century by Balakirev and his acolytes, Borodin and Rimsky-Korsakov as well as by Tchaikovsky, whose symphonies (despite his European leanings) have a distinctly Russian flavour. In their wake followed numerous composers, from Glazunov to Myaskovsky, similarly instilling their music with the melodies of their homeland. In the years that followed Russian politics had an unmistakable impact on the Russian symphonists, as Rachmaninov and Prokofiev (among others) went into exile whilst composers such as Shostakovich vented their political frustrations through the medium of music—his Leningrad Symphony being a prime example.

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