Author Topic: Khrennikov's Kremlin  (Read 7854 times)

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Offline vandermolen

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Khrennikov's Kremlin
« on: May 31, 2011, 12:26:03 PM »
Was Tikhon Khrennikov (1913-2007) that bad? Does he deserve his terrible reputation as Stalin's puppet and as the scourge of Shostakovich etc.  Oddly, he kept his position in the Russian musical establishment after the collapse of the USSR and he pointed out that no composer died in the purges (is this true?). I actually saw him - New Year's Day 1986 at a concert at the Bolshoi ballet - a rather inoffensive and bland ballet was being performed - at the end of which a spotlight lit up a box in the theatre to reveal the lugubrious figure of Khrennikov, whom I recognised immediately. I like his Second Symphony - a work of some depth I think - the end of the slow movement is eloquent - it is a wartime work which I often listen to.
« Last Edit: May 31, 2011, 12:37:34 PM by vandermolen »
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

cilgwyn

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Re: Khrennikov's Kremlin
« Reply #1 on: May 31, 2011, 12:46:14 PM »
Not a profound,original or particularly subtle composer or a very nice person by the sound of it! At the same time I must admit to rather enjoying my cd of Khrennikov symphonies,particularly the one that you mention here,Vandermolen. There are some spicy harmonies here and imaginative orchestration that linger in the mind a little bit longer than,perhaps,they should. As a matter of fact I think I prefer Khrennikov to Kabalevsky in some ways,although I wouldn't care to compare him with Prokofiev or Shostakovich (What's the point?).
« Last Edit: May 31, 2011, 12:57:54 PM by cilgwyn »

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Khrennikov's Kremlin
« Reply #2 on: May 31, 2011, 08:47:21 PM »
Not a profound,original or particularly subtle composer or a very nice person by the sound of it! At the same time I must admit to rather enjoying my cd of Khrennikov symphonies,particularly the one that you mention here,Vandermolen. There are some spicy harmonies here and imaginative orchestration that linger in the mind a little bit longer than,perhaps,they should. As a matter of fact I think I prefer Khrennikov to Kabalevsky in some ways,although I wouldn't care to compare him with Prokofiev or Shostakovich (What's the point?).

Yes, I largely agree with you. I think that Kabalevsky's 2nd Cello Concerto has more depth than anything I have heard by Khrennikov and I think that Kabalevsky's 4th Symphony is very underrated. But Khrennikov's Second Symphony I also enjoy, perhaps more than I should! Thanks for the response.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Offline Hattoff

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Re: Khrennikov's Kremlin
« Reply #3 on: May 31, 2011, 10:45:25 PM »
They were hard times and Khrennikov has been made a scapegoat for the ills that were not his fault. Prokofiev's wife, Lina, thought highly of him and she was incarcerated in a gulag for seven years (1948-1955) for some trumped up crimes. Khrennikov helped her when Prokofiev was too ill and out of political favour to help her himself. That said, my opinion of his music is that it has immediate appeal but does not bear repeated listening. It is too repetitive and bland although there are occasional good ideas.
Many composers were unpleasant people but some fans still hero worship them because they wrote great music, that is not the case with poor old Khrennikov.

No composers were murdered while Khrennikov was in charge but, if I remember correctly, Popov was sent to the gulags as well. Now, Popov was a good composer.
« Last Edit: May 31, 2011, 10:49:10 PM by Hattoff »

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Khrennikov's Kremlin
« Reply #4 on: May 31, 2011, 11:39:37 PM »
They were hard times and Khrennikov has been made a scapegoat for the ills that were not his fault. Prokofiev's wife, Lina, thought highly of him and she was incarcerated in a gulag for seven years (1948-1955) for some trumped up crimes. Khrennikov helped her when Prokofiev was too ill and out of political favour to help her himself. That said, my opinion of his music is that it has immediate appeal but does not bear repeated listening. It is too repetitive and bland although there are occasional good ideas.
Many composers were unpleasant people but some fans still hero worship them because they wrote great music, that is not the case with poor old Khrennikov.

No composers were murdered while Khrennikov was in charge but, if I remember correctly, Popov was sent to the gulags as well. Now, Popov was a good composer.

Thanks - the one work I do repeatedly play is Symphony No 2 - the last movement has a rather banal theme that is repeated endlessly but it has a kind of ghastly appeal and the close of the slow movement is eloquent. I agree about Popov - a genuinely great composer - especially symphonies 1, 2 and the valedictory 6.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

cilgwyn

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Re: Khrennikov's Kremlin
« Reply #5 on: June 01, 2011, 08:31:48 AM »
I don't exactly have Khrennikov on rotation! In my opinion Khrennikov is a good-bad composer,a bit like Daphne du Maurier is a good-bad writer. I don't think many people who have enjoyed 'Jamaica Inn' would care to go around telling everyone what a great novelist she is,and I meant 'great' as in Dickens or Hemingway,not 'grrrrrreat' as in the Frosties tv ad! Music is subjective anyway,to some degree,and we all like different things (except at my local where everyone mysteriously seems to like football). At the same time Khrennikov is never going to be on everyone's favorite list,primarily because I don't think his music is original or distinctive enough. Yet at his best it does have something and I can perfectly understand why Vandermolen would enjoy it,and perhaps to some degree his enjoyment is enhanced by the playing of the orchestra which is at times,quite phenomenol. I must admit to quite enjoying some of the kitsch-y 'Himalayan' music in parts of the third symphony. Not exactly subtle but good fun,now and again,if you fancy a change from the aknowledged masters. Khrennikov certainly had an ear for some ear tickling orchestration when he put his mind to it. A new cd recording of Khrennikov's Second symphony would be fun to have and a change from Kabalevsky his less wiry,acerbic contemporary but hardly essential. It would also be rather nice to see the cd of his Piano Concerto's reissued,the rotters deleted it before I got my mitts on it! Incidentally,the cpo set of the Kabalevsky symphonies is rather nice,the performance of No 2 striking me as having a good deal more 'oomph' than the rather stodgy Chandos alternative. Kudo's also to CPO for their imaginative choice of a lurid soviet painting for the front cover.
Who knows,maybe,just maybe there IS some good Lev Knipper or Vano Muradeli out there somewhere!!!!!
« Last Edit: June 01, 2011, 08:53:46 AM by cilgwyn »

cilgwyn

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Re: Khrennikov's Kremlin
« Reply #6 on: June 01, 2011, 08:41:24 AM »
PS:If anyone HAS heard ALL twenty symphonies by Lev Knipper and lived to tell the tale we'd all love to hear from you!
« Last Edit: June 01, 2011, 08:57:02 AM by cilgwyn »

Offline Lethevich

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Re: Khrennikov's Kremlin
« Reply #7 on: June 01, 2011, 09:01:07 AM »
I've tried to enjoy his music, but it does come across as sub-Kabalevsky most of the time. Everything is short and polite, ticking along nicely - his technique feels hectoring in its lack of ambition or risk. There is no respite from this in any area of his output - symphonies, piano concertos (I haven't heard the ones for violin) or chamber music. His songs are okay, I suppose...

Perhaps the ballets might find him on more relaxed form?

Edit: I suppose with the interest expressed here I need to give the second symphony another audition too!

No composers were murdered while Khrennikov was in charge but, if I remember correctly, Popov was sent to the gulags as well.

It's a poor argument too - you can take a mortal life, but you can also take an intellectual one - some composers like Popov became cripples as much as if their legs were chopped off.
Peanut butter, flour and sugar do not make cookies. They make FIRE.

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Khrennikov's Kremlin
« Reply #8 on: June 01, 2011, 09:13:51 AM »
I don't exactly have Khrennikov on rotation! In my opinion Khrennikov is a good-bad composer,a bit like Daphne du Maurier is a good-bad writer. I don't think many people who have enjoyed 'Jamaica Inn' would care to go around telling everyone what a great novelist she is,and I meant 'great' as in Dickens or Hemingway,not 'grrrrrreat' as in the Frosties tv ad! Music is subjective anyway,to some degree,and we all like different things (except at my local where everyone mysteriously seems to like football). At the same time Khrennikov is never going to be on everyone's favorite list,primarily because I don't think his music is original or distinctive enough. Yet at his best it does have something and I can perfectly understand why Vandermolen would enjoy it,and perhaps to some degree his enjoyment is enhanced by the playing of the orchestra which is at times,quite phenomenol. I must admit to quite enjoying some of the kitsch-y 'Himalayan' music in parts of the third symphony. Not exactly subtle but good fun,now and again,if you fancy a change from the aknowledged masters. Khrennikov certainly had an ear for some ear tickling orchestration when he put his mind to it. A new cd recording of Khrennikov's Second symphony would be fun to have and a change from Kabalevsky his less wiry,acerbic contemporary but hardly essential. It would also be rather nice to see the cd of his Piano Concerto's reissued,the rotters deleted it before I got my mitts on it! Incidentally,the cpo set of the Kabalevsky symphonies is rather nice,the performance of No 2 striking me as having a good deal more 'oomph' than the rather stodgy Chandos alternative. Kudo's also to CPO for their imaginative choice of a lurid soviet painting for the front cover.
Who knows,maybe,just maybe there IS some good Lev Knipper or Vano Muradeli out there somewhere!!!!!

Nice entertaining post. I don't play Khrennikov all the time and it is cerainly not great (in the Frosties TV advert sense) music - but, as I say, it has a kind of ghastly appeal. I like the CPO Kabalevsky set and have always felt that his Symphony No 4 is underrated although the Cello Concerto No 2 is his masterpiece.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

cilgwyn

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Re: Khrennikov's Kremlin
« Reply #9 on: June 01, 2011, 10:58:22 AM »
Regarding you're comment about Popov,'Lethe'. I recall some reviewer describing Rued Langgaard's being cold shouldered by the Danish musical establishment (if that's the right term for it) as 'psychological torture'. Now,okay Langgaard was a difficult character,to say the least,but whatever you think of his music,for someone whose life was devoted to expressing himself through his music,he must have gone through his own private version of hell. I wouldn't like to compare the two,but it must have felt like being in the Danish equivalent of the 'Gulags' at times.
Of course,unlike Popov & his Soviet compatriots,Langgaard did have a choice. 
  Regarding Kabalevsky's Fourth. The old MK Lp put me for a long time,although I had to admit that there was 'something' appealing there. The 'scratchy','thin' sound didn't help! So it was nice to hear the cpo recording,which is sounds very good. It's not Shostakovich,but cruel and pointless comparisons aside I think it is a more impressive work than the Second,fun as that undoubtedly is. The quiet,reflective music has a haunted,poignant quality & shows that there was a bit more to Kabalevsky than  'The Comedians' and  'Colas Breugnon' overture.
(Off topic a bit:Lyatoshinsky's Symphonies are pretty good too,come to think of it).
« Last Edit: June 01, 2011, 12:29:05 PM by cilgwyn »

Offline Klaze

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Re: Khrennikov's Kremlin
« Reply #10 on: June 01, 2011, 11:08:04 AM »
Just wanted to mention the ...interesting Wikipedia entry for Mr. Khrennikov

Quote
Some critics in their fight with totalitarian past tried to criticize Khrennikov for his speech back to 1947 and show him as a watchdog of Stalinism and dictatorship. Khrennikov withstood it with all possible serenity, courage and dignity. “The time will put everything in order, - he used to say. – My music will get back to the audience some time”. Other writers emphasized Khrennikov’s wisdom and humanistic leadership, that helped all Soviet composers to avoid Stalin’s GULAG. They praised for his unique melodic talent, which makes him the outstanding contemporary composer of world recognition.

and

Quote
The composer was blessed with a bright and long life in music. His pieces form the musical portrait of the XXth century, always being young, strong and optimistic, sincere and inspirational, warm, humorous and energetic. Tikhon Khrennikov had never betrayed his ideals in life and art.

Also check out the discussion on this Wikipedia entry. Forever a controversial figure i guess ;]

cilgwyn

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Re: Khrennikov's Kremlin
« Reply #11 on: June 04, 2011, 04:59:43 AM »
Come on folks! Khrenninkov's got to be more interesting than Henry Cowell!!!!

Offline Maestro267

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Re: Khrennikov's Kremlin
« Reply #12 on: September 18, 2016, 01:23:28 AM »
Last week I picked up a disc of Khrennikov's music, Violin Concertos 1 & 2, and Piano Concertos 2 & 3. As you say, it's not exactly revolutionary, but it certainly belongs in the 20th century (ie. it's more interesting than Mozart et al.)


Turner

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Re: Khrennikov's Kremlin
« Reply #13 on: September 18, 2016, 01:30:45 AM »
I´ve got most of his major works but don´t feel much need to listen to them - IMO, better to explore composers with a less unattractive image, and there are tons of them from Russia/the former USSR - also less experimenting ones of the Khrennikov sort, such as Peiko, Kabalalevsky, K.Khachaturian, Shebalin, Mansurian, Weinberg, Glonti, Nosyrev, Lokshin, Nasidze, Levitin etc. etc.

It´s a pity that Onno van Rijen´s website of Soviet Composers has been deprived of the forum section - but it stil contains tons of information.
« Last Edit: September 18, 2016, 01:33:48 AM by Turner »

Offline Maestro267

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Re: Khrennikov's Kremlin
« Reply #14 on: September 18, 2016, 01:38:04 AM »
As I'd never heard of the man until I took a gamble on the disc (being interested generally in Soviet orchestral music), I was unaware of his activities in other areas. Regardless, the music itself is enjoyable enough.

cilgwyn

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Re: Khrennikov's Kremlin
« Reply #15 on: September 18, 2016, 03:04:25 AM »
Come on folks! Khrenninkov's got to be more interesting than Henry Cowell!!!!
??? Hm! ::) I've actually begun to enjoy Cowell's music allot more recently! In fact,I think I might revive his thread before long?!
Anyway,back to Khrennikov. I've got nothing new to add really;except to reiterate that I DO enjoy his music. I think my favourites are his Symphonies 2,3 and the Piano Concertos 1-3 (I haven't heard No 4). After listening to the utterly fantastic Cpo set of Kabalevsky's Piano Concertos (a recent purchase) I can't help wishing Cpo would do Khrennikov's. I think they would make a terrific follow up. Although,I do think Kabalevsky is the finer composer. Unfortunately,I think politics might get in the way? Some people get really worked up about Khrennikov. I've known threads being locked!! Me? I just try and separate the music from the man;and I like what I hear!

Offline Maestro267

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Re: Khrennikov's Kremlin
« Reply #16 on: September 18, 2016, 06:40:50 AM »
Me? I just try and separate the music from the man;and I like what I hear!

Absolutely this. More people should have this attitude. We shouldn't have to justify listening to certain composers' music. If you wanna listen, listen.
« Last Edit: September 18, 2016, 10:20:07 AM by Maestro267 »

Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: Khrennikov's Kremlin
« Reply #17 on: September 18, 2016, 06:55:32 AM »
??? Hm! ::) I've actually begun to enjoy Cowell's music allot more recently! In fact,I think I might revive his thread before long?!

Well, I am glad to see you repent of that monstrous assertion ("Come on folks! Khrennikov's got to be more interesting than Henry Cowell!!!")

8)
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Offline Scion7

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Re: Khrennikov's Kremlin
« Reply #18 on: September 20, 2016, 03:24:08 AM »
Had he had his back striped during the Yeltsin years, all would be atoned for!   0:)
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Offline Scion7

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Re: Khrennikov's Kremlin
« Reply #19 on: September 20, 2016, 03:27:29 AM »
(ie. it's more interesting than Mozart et al.)

i.e., you are in need of deep, deep emotional therapy!!!!   $:)
The Germans, who make doctrines out of everything, deal with music learnedly; the Italians, being voluptuous, seek in it lively, though fleeting, sensations; the French, more vain than perceptive, manage to speak of it wittily; and the English pay for it . . . - Stendhal