About this Recording
8.220349 - GLIERE: Symphony No. 1 / The Sirens

Reinhold Gliere (1875-1956)

Reyngol'd Glier (Reinhold Gliere) was of Belgian descent, the son of a maker of wind instruments in Kiev. He learned the violin as a child and entered the Kiev Music School, studying violin and composition, before becoming a student in 1884 at the Conservatory in Moscow. There he was a pupil of the violinist Hrimaly and of Taneyev, Arensky, Konyus and Ippolitov-Ivanov. In 1900 he completed his Conservatory studies, his graduation composition a one-act opera-oratorio Earth and Heaven, based on Byron.

Gliere's first employment was as a teacher at the Gnesin Music School in Moscow. From 1905 to 1907 he studied conducting with Oscar Fried in Berlin, appearing as a conductor on his return to Russia in 1908, the year of his successful symphonic poem The Sirens. A third symphony followed the two earlier symphonies of 1900 and 1907, before his return in 1913 to Kiev as head of the Conservatory composition class, followed in 1914 by promotion to the position of director.

From 1920 until his retirement in 1941 Gliere taught composition at the Conservatory in Moscow. He showed great interest in the music of the various ethnic minorities of the Soviet Union, making a detailed study of the music of Azerbaijan that bore fruit in his opera Shakh-Senem, written in 1924 and performed in Baku ten years later. His investigations extended also to Uzbekistan and other Soviet republics, while the more familiar music of the Ukraine provided him with another source of inspiration.

During his career Gliere occupied a number of official positions. In the early years of the Revolution he headed the music section of the Moscow Department of Popular Education, and was Chairman of the organizing committee of the Union of Soviet Composers from 1938 until 1948. His work was officially recognised by various state awards, including the title of People's Artist, bestowed in 1938. Gliere died in 1956.

In style Gliere is heir to the Russian romantic tradition. His music for ballet won him a firm reputation among dancers, with The Red Flower of 1926 and the Bronze Horseman of 1949 of particular fame, while his other works, in particular the Harp Concerto and the third symphony, Il'ya Muromets have a deserved place in popular repertoire.

Symphony No. 1 in E-Flat, Op. 8
Andante – Allegro
Molto vivace

The Symphony in E-Flat, Opus 8, was started in 1899, while Gliere was still a student at the Moscow Conservatory, and completed in the following year. It illustrates clearly enough the composer's preference for the relatively Western classicism of Tchaikovsky, rather than the nationalism of the Five. Nevertheless the idiom is an essentially Russian one.

The first movement opens with an Andante leading to an Allegro that shows a sure handling of the orchestra, a feature of the whole work, and a testimony to the sound teaching of Ippolitov-Ivanov. There is a lively scherzo and a lyrical slow movement, its thematic material proclaiming its national origin. This is followed by a finale that provides a stirring conclusion, in spite of a tendency to over-use sequential devices.

The Sirens, Opus 33
The Sirens, a symphonic poem, was completed in 1908. It provides, in its deft handling of the orchestra, an evocative picture of those enchantresses that lured sailors to their doom. According to the Roman historian Suetonius the Emperor Tiberius would tease scholars by asking what song the Sirens sang. To this enigma Gliere provided his own answer, in the language of Ondine.

Stephen Gunzenhauser
The American conductor Stephen Gunzenhauser was educated in New York, continuing his studies at Oberlin, at the Salzburg Mozarteum, at the New England Conservatory and at Cologne State Conservatory .His period at the last of these was the result of a Fulbright Scholarship, followed by an award from the West German Government and a first prize in the conducting competition held in the Spanish town of Santiago.

For the Marco Polo label Stephen Gunzenhauser has recorded works by Bloch, Lachner, Taneyev, Liadov, Gliere and Rubinstein, and for NAXOS Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 5, Beethoven's Overtures, the Saint-Saëns Organ Symphony, Orff's Carmina Burana and the symphonies of Borodin. He is currently engaged in recording all the symphonies and symphonic poems of Dvořák, also for NAXOS.

The Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra
The Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra has benefited considerably from the work of its distinguished conductors. These included Vaclav Talich (1949-1952), Ludovit Rajter, Ladislav Slovak and Libor Pešek. Zdenék Košler has also had a long and distinguished association with the orchestra and has conducted many of its most successful recordings, among them the complete symphonies of Dvořák.

During the years of its professional existence the Slovak Philharmonic has worked under the direction of many of the most distinguished conductors from abroad, from Eugene Goossens and Malcolm Sargent to Claudio Abbado, Antal Dorati and Riccardo Muti.

The orchestra has undertaken many tours abroad, including visits to Germany and Japan, and has made a large number of recordings for the Czech Opus label, for Supraphon, for Hungaroton and, in recent years, for the Marco Polo and Naxos labels. These recordings have brought the orchestra a growing international reputation and praise from the critics of leading international publications.

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