About this Recording
8.553575 - GLAZUNOV, A.K.: Orchestral Works, Vol. 3 - The King of the Jews (Moscow Symphony, Golovschin)

Alexander Glazunov (1865 -1936)

Alexander Glazunov (1865 -1936)

The King of the Jews, Op. 95

(Incidental Music)


1. Introduction and Chorus

2. Song of the Disciples of Jesus

3. Entr'acte to Act II

4. Tmmpets of the Levites

5. Act II: Conclusion

6. Entr'acte to Act III, Scene 1

7. Entr'acte to Act III, Scene 2

8. Syrian Dance

9. Entr'acte to Act IV

10. Shepherd's Musette

11. Psalm of the Believers


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 day 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, founder of the St Petersburg Conservatory and a system of professional training for musicians. 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, while Simon Mundy, in a recent monograph, has done much to restore interest in a composer who has been generally undervalued.


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 1908. 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 Symphonies 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 infdme scribouiIleur. 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's incidental music to the play The King of the Jews (Tsar Iudeyskiy) was composed in 1913 for a religious drama written by the Grand Duke Konstantin, to be performed at the Hermitage by a group of army officers. Glazunov had been approached in 1912 by Captain Danilchenko of the Ismailov Regiment and the producer Nikolay Nikolayevich Arbatov. At first he was unenthusiastic, but his interest was aroused when he read the text, in which Christ himself never appears, but is seen only by the actors. Glazunov later explained how a melody came to him, to be associated with the figure of Christ on the cross, a theme that was at the basis of the whole work, as he conceived it. He worked on the original score in the spring of 1913, completing it in the autumn, when he played the music through to the Grand Duke at the Pavlov Palace. Winning immediate approval, he then set about orchestrating the work, devising it in a form that would also allow concert performance. The court orchestra was conducted by Hugo Warlich, with stage direction by Arbatov and choreography by Fokin. The Grand Duke took the part of Josef, with professional actors in other major roles, minor parts being left to officers of the Imperial Guard. The play was first performed in the Hermitage Theatre on 9thJanuary 1914, but the music was later played under Glazunov's direction in a number of cities. He himself related how the officers of the Ismailov Regiment remembered in particular the chorus for the resurrection of Christ, in the difficult times of war that lay ahead.


The very Russian score that Glazunov provided for the drama begins with a serene Introduction leading to the first chorus, greeting Christ with hosannas. This is immediately followed by the strongly liturgical Song of the Disciples of Jesus. The Entr' acte before the second act is again markedly Russian in feeling. It is followed by the brass of the Levite trumpets and the act ends in tragedy. The Entr' acte to the first scene of the third act leads to a sombre march, while the second scene Entr'acte, opening strongly, ends on a more plaintive note. The Syrian Dance provides a note of relative exoticism, while the shepherd plays a pipe, rather than a musette. The music ends with the fervent Psalm of the Believers, the chorus that appealed so strongly to the officers of the Ismailov Regiment.

Moscow Capella (choms-master Sergey Krivobokov)


The Moscow Capella was founded in 1991 by Sergey Krivobokov and is the official choir of the Patriarch's Krutitskoye two residence in Moscow. The choir performs religious and secular repertoire and has made a number of recordings.



Moscow Symphony Orchestra


The Moscow Symphony Orchestra was established in 1989 and is under the direction of the distinguished French musician Antonio 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 as 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.



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.



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