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Saturday, April 29, 2017

Symphony Saturday

OK, we really fell off the wagon here, didn’t we? So let’s get back into it with a two-week look at a couple of Alexander Glazunov’s eight symphonies.

I must confess a great lack of familiarity with Glazunov’s work. He seems to be one of those composers who lingers at the edges of the standard repertoire. For whatever reason, he hasn’t broken through into the first tier of composers, but neither has he lapsed into obscurity, either. From what little I’ve heard, his work tends to be right up my alley, with its scope and its lyricism. He seems to be somewhere between Tchaikovsky’s songs of sorrow and Borodin’s love of epic grandeur. Glazunov bridged the end of Russian Romanticism and the beginnings of Russian Modernism, and thus he seems to be roughly analogous to Sergei Rachmaninov.

This is Glazunov’s Fifth Symphony. I’ve played it several times over the last few weeks, and I find myself responding more and more to it. It has all the heartfelt singing and Russian brooding that you would expect and wish for from a Russian symphony written in the post-Tchaikovsky era, as well as an almost frothy confection in the scherzo movement that sounds almost like a children’s dance.

Here is Glazunov’s Symphony No. 5 in B-flat major.


Next week: Glazunov's 7th.

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