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8.223331 - IVANOVS: Symphonies Nos. 2 and 3

Janis Ivanovs (1906 -1983) Symphonies Nos

Janis Ivanovs (1906-1983)

Symphonies Nos. 2 and 3


Janis Ivanovs is considered Latvia's most distinguished symphonist. His grasp of orchestral colour and musical texture was so extraordinary that his colleagues often praised him for his precise, expressive, and nationalistic musical idiom. Had he only written his Fourth (Atlantida), Fifth or Sixth (Latgales) Symphonies, he would have left an indelible mark on music history. However, he composed 21 symphonies, three concertos for various instruments, cello, violin, and piano, five symphonic poems, three string quartets, and numerous vocal, piano and chamber works.


Janis Ivanovs was born on 9th October, 1906 in a small Latvian town called Preili. He graduated in 1931 from the Latvian State Conservatory in Riga, where his teachers were Jazeps Vitols (composition) and Georg Schnéevoigt (conducting). He continued post-graduate studies with Vitols until 1933. In 1931 he began a long association with Latvian Radio, eventually becoming the artistic director of the Latvian Radio Committee. In 1944 he joined the faculty of the Latvian State Conservatory, becoming full professor in 1955. He was president of the Latvian Composers' Union and was awarded the titles People's Artist of the Latvian SSR (1956) and People's Artist of the USSR (1965). Janis Ivanovs died in 1983 after completing three movements of his Symphony No. 21.


The bulk of Ivanovs' compositions is orchestral, the core of which are his 21 symphonies. Stylistically his early works show influences of Scriabin and his later works that of Prokofiev and Shostakovich. These, however, are just passing influences. The hand of the mature master is evident in all his works, early or late. The language is distinctly Ivanovs', nationalistic, dynamic, powerful, dramatic. "Janis Ivanovs is like thunder and lightning, cleansing the air with his Lucifer sounds. His symphonies are like ancient Greek tragedies, filled with ecstasy and purification." So wrote another Latvian composer and music critic, Margers Zarins. Although every composition of Ivanovs delivers something fresh and unusual, we also hear the familiar. His music provides us with an unusual sense of intirnacy. Here is a composer who is speaking to us, perhaps battling something, defending us from obstacles and taking us on a safe and welcome path. His love of melody is evident in all his works. In fact, the melodic content is the essence of each of his compositions. Ivanovs drew upon the native songs of the Latgale district (eastern Latvia) for his inspiration. Latgale's folk-music combines both Slavic sadness and restrained beauty. This is definitely a trademark of Ivanovs' music. Pathos, colour, intensity , tightness of structure and expansiveness of musical ideas are also corner-stones of his style.


Many Latvian composers in the 1930s - Vitols, Graubins, Medins - were developing their artistic styles by studying Latvian folk music. Ivanovs was no exception. His Symphony No. 2 in D minor was composed in 1937 after his sixteen-minute Latgale Pictures was completed. The beautiful land of Latgale, with its majestic Lake Razna and mysterious Cloudy Mountain, provide the backdrop for this symphonic masterpiece. Doorned sadness characterizes Latgale's past, evident at the opening of the Second Symphony. The sorrow and drama are slowly but certainly dispelled by energetic images of light and hope at the end of the first movement and the finale. The second movement is flowing and beautiful, connecting eventually to the Andante of the finale. Soon after the first performance, the score and parts of this symphony were lost. The work was rediscovered in 1985. Its lyricism is that of a bygone era, the age of Schubert, Liszt, Tchaikovsky and Franck. The composer, in his notes to this work, expresses a deep admiration for Franck's monumental symphony and states that the lyrico-psychological nature of Franck's work, its three-rnovement structure and its tonality (D minor) were all a strong influence on his own work.


By the time Ivanovs' Symphony No. 3 in F minor received its first performance in 1938, Latvian symphonic music was burgeoning. There were many talented, creative and productive composers working at that time, Janis Medins, Peteris Barisons, Adolfs Skulte, Janis Kepitis, to name a few.


The Third Symphony reveals Ivanovs as a master of the lyric genre. Although we may hear occasional influences of Tchaikovsky and Scriabin in this work, Ivanovs shows us that he has developed his own distinctive style. The Third Symphony is in the traditional four-movement structure. Its scherzo is colourful and ebullient, the finale is epic and deeply dramatic. The broadly emotional slow movement is like an endless song, a tribute to his homeland of Latgale and its fascinating folk music.


Latvian National Symphony Orchestra


The Latvian National Symphony Orchestra has 110 musicians and is the leading orchestra of the Latvian Republic. The orchestra continues to develop those musical traditions which originated at the beginning of the nineteenth century. Latvia always has been a link between Western cultures and Russia. Young Richard Wagner worked in the Riga German Theatre from 1837 till 1839. Franz Liszt, Clara Wieck-Schumann, Anton Rubinstein and Hector Berlioz gave concerts in Riga in the 1840s. However, only after Latvian independence in 1918 was it possible to form the orchestra. The Latvian National Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1926.


In 1926 the symphony orchestra was actually a small ensemble playing popular music programmes. Founded by the outstanding Latvian musician Arvids Parups, the orchestra in its first year gave numerous concerts and live broadcasts. After 1930 the orchestra's activities considerably expanded. The best conductors of the Riga Opera conducted the orchestra: J. Medins, T. Reiters, Leo Blech, G. Schneevoigt. Well-known guest conductors also appeared with the orchestra, including Eric Coates, Igor Stravinsky and Erich Kleiber. The Latvian National Symphony Orchestra, along with the Opera in Riga, rapidly became one of the major cultural attractions in the country.


Among the principal conductors of the orchestra have been Leonids Vigners, Edgars Tons, Vassily Sinaisky and Paul Magi. Many outstanding soloists have performed with the orchestra, among them, David Oistrakh, Emil Gilels, Leonid Kogan, Sviatoslav Richter, and Van Cliburn. Many of the world's finest conductors have also led the orchestra: Kiril Kondrashin, Yuri Simonov, Mariss Jansons, Neeme Jarvi, Krzysztof Penderecki, Carlo Zecchi, Jean-Claude Casadesus, and Leonard Slatkin.


The Latvian National Symphony Orchestra has also toured around the world, with appearances in Sweden, Switzerland, Germany, France (at the Cannes Festival, Festival Hardelot and the Fêtes Musicales en Touraine with Sviatoslav Richter), Belgium (Festival de Wallonie), Great Britain, Portugal, Luxembourg, Netherlands (at the Concertgebouw), Italy, and Austria.


Dmitry Yablonsky


Dmitry Yablonsky was born in 1962 into a musical family in Moscow. His mother is the distinguished pianist Oxana Yablonskaya and his father was principal oboist with the Radio and Television Symphony Orchestra. At the age of six, he began to play the cello and was immediately accepted at the Moscow Central School for Gifted Children. He made his orchestral début at the age of nine, playing Haydn's Concerto in C Major with conductor Gennady Provatorov. Many recitals and appearances with orchestras soon followed. In 1977 he and his mother emigrated to the United States. Dmitry Yablonsky continued his studies at The Juilliard School and the Curtis Institute, and subsequently graduated from Yale University. His major teachers have been Aldo Parisot and Zara Nelsova.


Dmitry Yablonsky has participated in many music festivals, including the Marlboro Music Festival (where at sixteen he was the youngest musician to play). He has played in concerts all over the world, performing at Carnegie Hall, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, New York's Alice Tully Hall, and the Great Philharmonic Hall in st Petersburg. He has toured in Spain, Norway, France, Italy, Japan and Korea and has performed as principal cellist with the Barcelona symphony Orchestra and the Bergen symphony Orchestra. He recently performed Penderecki's Cello Concerto No. 2 with the composer conducting. Dmitry Yablonsky plays a rare Joseph Guarnerius filius Andrea cello made in 1726.


In 1991, Dmitry Yablonsky made his conducting début with members of the Santa Cecilia Orchestra of Rome at a festival in Camerino, Italy, where other participants were Yuri Bashmet and Martha Argerich. Since then he has conducted the st Petersburg Symphony Orchestra, the Gorki Symphony Orchestra in France, and toured with the Latvian National symphony Orchestra in Spain.

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