Author Topic: Recommended obscure Russian composer  (Read 1568 times)

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Offline fugueforthought

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Recommended obscure Russian composer
« on: May 08, 2017, 04:46:11 PM »
I know this is a broad and very subjective topic, but here goes:
I'm basically looking for an obscure pet project composer to get to know. I'd love opinions on any of the below composers, a list I've compiled based on some specific criteria. They're all (Russian/Soviet) 20th century composers (some have works from just before 1900?) who've put out some number of both symphonies and string quartets, and they're at least somewhat (if not very) obscure.
- Maximilian Steinberg
- Boris Asafyev
- Vladimir Shcherbachov (only a suite for SQ)
- Lev Knipper (also spy!)
- Alexander Tcherepnin
- Gavriil Popov ("symphony for SQ")
- Vissarion Shebalin
- Boris Arapov
- Dmitri Klebanov
- Nikolay Peyko
- Aleksandr Lokshin
- Andrei Eshpai
- Vladimir Dashkevich
- Youri Boutsko
- Boris Tischenko
- Alexey Rybnikov
- Alla Pavlova
I know that's a lot, but I'd be curious to get anyone's opinions/recommendations if any of these stand out, not a rundown of each of them. I've been listening to a number of Shebalin's works so far, and am at least interested to continue listening. Thanks!

Offline SymphonicAddict

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Re: Recommended obscure Russian composer
« Reply #1 on: May 08, 2017, 05:41:20 PM »
I know this is a broad and very subjective topic, but here goes:
I'm basically looking for an obscure pet project composer to get to know. I'd love opinions on any of the below composers, a list I've compiled based on some specific criteria. They're all (Russian/Soviet) 20th century composers (some have works from just before 1900?) who've put out some number of both symphonies and string quartets, and they're at least somewhat (if not very) obscure.
- Maximilian Steinberg
- Boris Asafyev
- Vladimir Shcherbachov (only a suite for SQ)
- Lev Knipper (also spy!)
- Alexander Tcherepnin
- Gavriil Popov ("symphony for SQ")
- Vissarion Shebalin
- Boris Arapov
- Dmitri Klebanov
- Nikolay Peyko
- Aleksandr Lokshin
- Andrei Eshpai
- Vladimir Dashkevich
- Youri Boutsko
- Boris Tischenko
- Alexey Rybnikov
- Alla Pavlova
I know that's a lot, but I'd be curious to get anyone's opinions/recommendations if any of these stand out, not a rundown of each of them. I've been listening to a number of Shebalin's works so far, and am at least interested to continue listening. Thanks!

I highly recommend Popov, perhaps the most interesting in that list. His symphonies (there are 6 along with the Chamber Symphony) (Nr. 4 is not recorded yet) deserve to be listened to. The most impressive ones are the Nrs. 1 to 3 (Nr. 3 is a great example of symphony for strings, one of the most large and drammatic IMHO).

Also I'm familiar with Tcherepnin. He wrote 4 symphonies. There are some interesting but not as much as those of Popov.

I don't know about the rest of composers, but I'm sure there may be surprises and pleasant moments with them.

Offline fugueforthought

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Re: Recommended obscure Russian composer
« Reply #2 on: May 08, 2017, 05:50:49 PM »
Excellent! Thank you. I will see what I can find of Popov's. Some of these are names I've seen around, obviously, but never listened to and have no idea where to begin. The paucity of recordings I'm sure doesn't help.

Offline Jeffrey Smith

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Re: Recommended obscure Russian composer
« Reply #3 on: May 08, 2017, 06:09:08 PM »
There's the other Tchaikovsky
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boris_Tchaikovsky
I have at least one CD of his music, and no qualms with the music.

Offline relm1

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Re: Recommended obscure Russian composer
« Reply #4 on: May 08, 2017, 08:20:10 PM »
Rodion Shchedrin (b. 1932) <- some would consider him not obscure but a national hero.
Sergei Slonimsky (b. 1932) <- I believe his current count of symphonies is over 30 and they have a post Shostakovich/Epshai quality to them.  Sort of Russian folk inspired.  You might find this interview interesting in which he talks about some of his symphonies
http://en.remusik.org/slonimsky/ (under the Interview tab which doesn't seem to let me copy that exact link)
« Last Edit: May 08, 2017, 08:35:22 PM by relm1 »

Online Turner

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Re: Recommended obscure Russian composer
« Reply #5 on: May 08, 2017, 09:09:32 PM »
Rodion Shchedrin (b. 1932) <- some would consider him not obscure but a national hero.
Sergei Slonimsky (b. 1932) <- I believe his current count of symphonies is over 30 and they have a post Shostakovich/Epshai quality to them.  Sort of Russian folk inspired.  You might find this interview interesting in which he talks about some of his symphonies
http://en.remusik.org/slonimsky/ (under the Interview tab which doesn't seem to let me copy that exact link)

Yes, an interesting, under-recorded symphonist. Some of the later symphonies employ poly-stylism and various theatrical effects.
I hope someone will embark on a recorded cycle.
« Last Edit: May 08, 2017, 09:49:20 PM by Turner »

Online Turner

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Re: Recommended obscure Russian composer
« Reply #6 on: May 08, 2017, 09:21:17 PM »
I know this is a broad and very subjective topic, but here goes:
I'm basically looking for an obscure pet project composer to get to know. I'd love opinions on any of the below composers, a list I've compiled based on some specific criteria. They're all (Russian/Soviet) 20th century composers (some have works from just before 1900?) who've put out some number of both symphonies and string quartets, and they're at least somewhat (if not very) obscure.
- Maximilian Steinberg
- Boris Asafyev
- Vladimir Shcherbachov (only a suite for SQ)
- Lev Knipper (also spy!)
- Alexander Tcherepnin
- Gavriil Popov ("symphony for SQ")
- Vissarion Shebalin
- Boris Arapov
- Dmitri Klebanov
- Nikolay Peyko
- Aleksandr Lokshin
- Andrei Eshpai
- Vladimir Dashkevich
- Youri Boutsko
- Boris Tischenko
- Alexey Rybnikov
- Alla Pavlova
I know that's a lot, but I'd be curious to get anyone's opinions/recommendations if any of these stand out, not a rundown of each of them. I've been listening to a number of Shebalin's works so far, and am at least interested to continue listening. Thanks!

- Lokshin, Tischenko, Eshpai, Shebalin, Peiko, Popov (early works) are good as symphonists;
- Tcherepninīs attractive and varied piano concertos are available in a very fine BIS recoring now on Brilliant Classics;
- Arapov is also an interesting composer, but under-recorded.

I know nothing of Boutsko, Dashkevich & I havenīt heard Steinberg.   

Offline 71 dB

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Re: Recommended obscure Russian composer
« Reply #7 on: May 08, 2017, 09:38:42 PM »
For some reason people are very interested of Russian obscure composers. Not so much say French, Canadian, Swedish or Spanish obscure composers.

 ::)
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Online Turner

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Re: Recommended obscure Russian composer
« Reply #8 on: May 08, 2017, 09:52:35 PM »
For some reason people are very interested of Russian obscure composers. Not so much say French, Canadian, Swedish or Spanish obscure composers.

 ::)

A lot of these composers wote in a rather distinct, typically Russian/Soviet style, say in the vein of Shostakovich + some ethnic, or Scriabinesque traits.

Whereas the music of the other countries is overall less uniform, very roughly speaking.



Offline fugueforthought

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Re: Recommended obscure Russian composer
« Reply #9 on: May 08, 2017, 10:16:16 PM »
For some reason people are very interested of Russian obscure composers. Not so much say French, Canadian, Swedish or Spanish obscure composers.

 ::)

Well, I'm working through some lists of composers from a few of those places as well (Magnard, Ropartz, Roussel from France; Rosenberg, Kallstenius, Blomdahl from Sweden; and a long list of Spanish composers) but came across a rather large number of unfamiliar Russian names yesterday, and am curious to see what impressions anyone has of them.
Thanks for the feedback so far!

Offline 71 dB

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Re: Recommended obscure Russian composer
« Reply #10 on: May 08, 2017, 10:20:46 PM »
A lot of these composers wote in a rather distinct, typically Russian/Soviet style, say in the vein of Shostakovich + some ethnic, or Scriabinesque traits.

Whereas the music of the other countries is overall less uniform, very roughly speaking.

One would think being less uniform means being more interesting. Why is a second rate Shostakovich/third rate Scriabin more interesting than someone who is a second/third rate composer, but has an unique style?

Well, I'm working through some lists of composers from a few of those places as well (Magnard, Ropartz, Roussel from France; Rosenberg, Kallstenius, Blomdahl from Sweden; and a long list of Spanish composers) but came across a rather large number of unfamiliar Russian names yesterday, and am curious to see what impressions anyone has of them.
Thanks for the feedback so far!

Well, in that case sorry about the claims about neglecting non-Russian obscure composers.  ;)
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Offline vandermolen

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Re: Recommended obscure Russian composer
« Reply #11 on: May 08, 2017, 10:35:29 PM »
I highly recommend Popov, perhaps the most interesting in that list. His symphonies (there are 6 along with the Chamber Symphony) (Nr. 4 is not recorded yet) deserve to be listened to. The most impressive ones are the Nrs. 1 to 3 (Nr. 3 is a great example of symphony for strings, one of the most large and drammatic IMHO).

Also I'm familiar with Tcherepnin. He wrote 4 symphonies. There are some interesting but not as much as those of Popov.

I don't know about the rest of composers, but I'm sure there may be surprises and pleasant moments with them.
I'd definitely agree with this. Popov is IMHO a major, neglected figure. Symphony 1, 2 'Motherland' and 6 with its echoes of 'Boris Godonov' stand out for me. The phantasmagoric Symphony 1 is IMHO the only symphony which can stand alongside Shostakovich's 4th Symphony apart from Weinberg's 5th Symphony. Otherwise the Russian Disc CD with Eshpai's 4th and 5th symphonies often gets played here. Steinberg's 2nd Symphony is great IMHO, especially the doom-laden though paradoxically redemptive conclusion with its use of the orchestral piano which, I believe, may have influenced his pupil Dmitri Shostakovich in his First Symphony. I have the newly released (Dutton) CD of Steinberg's 4th Symphony and Violin Concerto but haven't listened to them yet. How about Miaskovsky? I enjoyed Shcherbachov's 5th Symphony very much.
« Last Edit: May 08, 2017, 10:37:23 PM by vandermolen »
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Offline 71 dB

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Re: Recommended obscure Russian composer
« Reply #12 on: May 09, 2017, 12:27:02 AM »
I'd definitely agree with this. Popov is IMHO a major, neglected figure.

Neglectance is the faith of all artists. Well-known artists are just exceptions to this rule.

The problem with obscure composers it that access to their music is limited and often expensive. Naxos has not been very busy with Russian obscure comporers (beyond Taneyev and Weinberg who of course aren't that obscure). There's so many other ways to spend your hard earned money than obscure Russian composers...  :P
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Offline Cato

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Re: Recommended obscure Russian composer
« Reply #13 on: May 09, 2017, 05:56:15 AM »
Alexander Tcherepnin was a mentor of mine in the 1960's, and yes, his Piano Concertos are well worth your time, as are the Piano Sonatas, and the four symphonies.  The latter are not epics by any means, but are somewhat Liadovian in that they are short, charming, thoughtful, and just fun works.

Vyacheslav Ovchinnikov is not on your list: recordings are difficult to find, if not impossible, but YouTube has a good number, as does this streaming online service:

http://classical-music-online.net/\\

He is still alive, c. 80 years old, and is perhaps most famous for his film scores for War and Peace, Andrei Rublev, and others.  Ovchinnikov's First Symphony is most excellent.

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/nfemhSHDlrY" target="_blank" class="new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/nfemhSHDlrY</a>
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Offline vandermolen

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Re: Recommended obscure Russian composer
« Reply #14 on: May 09, 2017, 11:54:18 AM »
Alexander Tcherepnin was a mentor of mine in the 1960's, and yes, his Piano Concertos are well worth your time, as are the Piano Sonatas, and the four symphonies.  The latter are not epics by any means, but are somewhat Liadovian in that they are short, charming, thoughtful, and just fun works.

Vyacheslav Ovchinnikov is not on your list: recordings are difficult to find, if not impossible, but YouTube has a good number, as does this streaming online service:

http://classical-music-online.net/\\

He is still alive, c. 80 years old, and is perhaps most famous for his film scores for War and Peace, Andrei Rublev, and others.  Ovchinnikov's First Symphony is most excellent.

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/nfemhSHDlrY" target="_blank" class="new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/nfemhSHDlrY</a>
Ovchinnikov also wrote the fine score to the epic Bondarchuk film version of 'War and Peace'. Oops - you mentioned that Leo. The First Symphony sounds most impressive. Thanks for the link.
« Last Edit: May 09, 2017, 11:56:35 AM by vandermolen »
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Offline Spineur

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Re: Recommended obscure Russian composer
« Reply #15 on: May 09, 2017, 12:18:29 PM »
Here is an absolute favorite CD



Which features two obscure russian composers
Youri Chaporin (a Tchaikovsky student) and Guorgui Sviridov a talented soviet era composer which music never made it to the west.

You can find a very attractive Cello sonata by Chaporin on youtube

« Last Edit: May 09, 2017, 12:21:15 PM by Spineur »
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Offline vandermolen

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Re: Recommended obscure Russian composer
« Reply #16 on: May 09, 2017, 12:33:10 PM »
Here's a link to Eshpai's 4th Symphony - generally considered his greatest:

https://youtu.be/WAuASHsLvno

And one of my own favourites - Rodion Shchedrin's First Symphony:

https://youtu.be/Obj8yKuiEgc

Both are available on CD.

« Last Edit: May 09, 2017, 12:35:26 PM by vandermolen »
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

Offline jessop

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Re: Recommended obscure Russian composer
« Reply #17 on: May 09, 2017, 06:38:27 PM »
Firsova, Ussachevsky, Kourliandski
« Last Edit: May 09, 2017, 06:52:09 PM by jessop »

Offline jessop

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Re: Recommended obscure Russian composer
« Reply #18 on: May 09, 2017, 06:59:34 PM »
A lot of these composers wote in a rather distinct, typically Russian/Soviet style, say in the vein of Shostakovich + some ethnic, or Scriabinesque traits.

Whereas the music of the other countries is overall less uniform, very roughly speaking.
Perhaps Ussachevsky's Of Wood and Brass does sound like second rate Shostakovich but I've never noticed. I think it's possible to find unique voices anywhere if that is what one is looking for.

Online Turner

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Re: Recommended obscure Russian composer
« Reply #19 on: May 09, 2017, 08:30:55 PM »
I think it is fair to say that Ussachevsky is seen as an American composer; he emigrated to the US in 1930, 19 years old, and built his musical career abroad. "Of Wood and Brass" is from 1965.
« Last Edit: May 09, 2017, 08:43:24 PM by Turner »

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