Author Topic: Aside from the famous ones, who is your favorite Soviet composer?  (Read 2334 times)

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Offline Brian

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Re: Aside from the famous ones, who is your favorite Soviet composer?
« Reply #20 on: June 04, 2020, 05:16:26 AM »
Where would you say I should start with his symphonic and chamber music?
The most readily accessible Weinberg is probably the concertante works - cello concerto (which I think is one of the 5 or so best ever written), clarinet concerto, flute concertos, violin concerto. The string quartets have a very big fan club and will appeal to anyone who likes Shostakovich, but I don't know which quartets exactly to start with, maybe somebody else will.

One thing I should say, knowing your own listening habits, is that near the end of his career, Weinberg got very bleak and gloomy and grayscale, so you should probably NOT try his late symphonies (i.e., after number 15 or so) until you are an advanced Weinberg fan. In terms of symphonic repertoire, better to start with symphonies 3 or 5.

EDIT: oh and the piano quintet is super duper good. The Rhapsody on Moldavian Themes is a light music masterpiece that fits right alongside rhapsodies by Enescu or the Dances of Galanta.
« Last Edit: June 04, 2020, 05:20:14 AM by Brian »

Offline Florestan

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Re: Aside from the famous ones, who is your favorite Soviet composer?
« Reply #21 on: June 04, 2020, 05:21:22 AM »
The most readily accessible Weinberg is probably the concertante works - cello concerto (which I think is one of the 5 or so best ever written), clarinet concerto, flute concertos, violin concerto. The string quartets have a very big fan club and will appeal to anyone who likes Shostakovich, but I don't know which quartets exactly to start with, maybe somebody else will.

One thing I should say, knowing your own listening habits, is that near the end of his career, Weinberg got very bleak and gloomy and grayscale, so you should probably NOT try his late symphonies (i.e., after number 15 or so) until you are an advanced Weinberg fan. In terms of symphonic repertoire, better to start with symphonies 3 or 5.

EDIT: oh and the piano quintet is super duper good. The Rhapsody on Moldavian Themes is a light music masterpiece that fits right alongside rhapsodies by Enescu or the Dances of Galanta.

Thanks, Brian, duly noted.
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Offline T. D.

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Re: Aside from the famous ones, who is your favorite Soviet composer?
« Reply #22 on: June 04, 2020, 05:26:45 AM »
Not mentioned yet (?): Ustvolskaya, to go by my personal listening frequency. Although I can't objectively consider her a "major" composer.

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Aside from the famous ones, who is your favorite Soviet composer?
« Reply #23 on: June 04, 2020, 05:30:38 AM »
Will certainly do, John.

From Weinberg I have only this:



and I quite liked the works I've already listened to.

Where would you say I should start with his symphonic and chamber music?

For Weinberg’s symphonies, I’d start with the 3rd, 4th, 5th or 6th. You really can’t go wrong with any of these symphonies, but I would probably start with the 3rd if I were just coming to Weinberg’s symphonies for the first-time because this particular symphony has a more optimistic mood to it that I think will help you ease into the other symphonies. For the chamber works, String Quartet No. 6 is probably the best place to start from the ones I’ve heard so far, but String Quartet No. 7 would also be a fine introduction to his SQs as well. I also think the Piano Quintet, Violin Sonata No. 4, Clarinet Sonata, Piano Trio and the Cello Sonatas would all make fine introductions to his chamber music.
“Works of art create rules; rules do not create works of art.” - Claude Debussy

Offline Florestan

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Re: Aside from the famous ones, who is your favorite Soviet composer?
« Reply #24 on: June 04, 2020, 05:32:38 AM »
For Weinberg’s symphonies, I’d start with the 3rd, 4th, 5th or 6th. You really can’t go wrong with any of these symphonies, but I would probably start with the 3rd if I were just coming to Weinberg’s symphonies for the first-time because this particular symphony has a more optimistic mood to it that I think will help you ease into the other symphonies. For the chamber works, String Quartet No. 6 is probably the best place to start from the ones I’ve heard so far, but String Quartet No. 7 would also be a fine introduction to his SQs as well. I also think the Piano Quintet, Violin Sonata No. 4, Clarinet Sonata, Piano Trio and the Cello Sonatas would all make fine introductions to his chamber music.

Duly noted as well, John --- and thanks.
"Melody is the essence of music." --- Mozart

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Aside from the famous ones, who is your favorite Soviet composer?
« Reply #25 on: June 04, 2020, 05:35:41 AM »
Duly noted as well, John --- and thanks.

My pleasure, Andrei. 8)
“Works of art create rules; rules do not create works of art.” - Claude Debussy

Offline MusicTurner

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Re: Aside from the famous ones, who is your favorite Soviet composer?
« Reply #26 on: June 04, 2020, 05:40:03 AM »
Concerning Khachaturian, it might be worth mentioning that there are two of them: Aram (= famous) and Karen (not so famous, but also a writer of symphonies, concertos and other ambitious works, in a perhaps slightly more modern and introvert style).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karen_Khachaturian

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aram_Khachaturian
« Last Edit: June 04, 2020, 05:43:52 AM by MusicTurner »

Offline Dima

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Re: Aside from the famous ones, who is your favorite Soviet composer?
« Reply #27 on: June 04, 2020, 06:17:56 AM »
A composer I've been meaning to explore for ages but somehow never got to start the project is Myaskovsky.
Andrei, if you listen to 21 symphony of Myaskovsky - you will know what could write and feel perhaps Rachmaninov if he had returned to USSR (shortly before war).
It is one part composition. Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hGC3iPhRT5Y
« Last Edit: June 04, 2020, 08:42:06 AM by Dima »

Offline BasilValentine

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Re: Aside from the famous ones, who is your favorite Soviet composer?
« Reply #28 on: June 04, 2020, 07:55:03 AM »
Schnittke, Weinberg, and Myaskovsky

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Aside from the famous ones, who is your favorite Soviet composer?
« Reply #29 on: June 04, 2020, 08:00:19 AM »
Schnittke, Weinberg, and Myaskovsky

Yes, yes and yes! 8)
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Offline kyjo

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Re: Aside from the famous ones, who is your favorite Soviet composer?
« Reply #30 on: June 04, 2020, 08:17:50 AM »
The most readily accessible Weinberg is probably the concertante works - cello concerto (which I think is one of the 5 or so best ever written), clarinet concerto, flute concertos, violin concerto. The string quartets have a very big fan club and will appeal to anyone who likes Shostakovich, but I don't know which quartets exactly to start with, maybe somebody else will.

One thing I should say, knowing your own listening habits, is that near the end of his career, Weinberg got very bleak and gloomy and grayscale, so you should probably NOT try his late symphonies (i.e., after number 15 or so) until you are an advanced Weinberg fan. In terms of symphonic repertoire, better to start with symphonies 3 or 5.

EDIT: oh and the piano quintet is super duper good. The Rhapsody on Moldavian Themes is a light music masterpiece that fits right alongside rhapsodies by Enescu or the Dances of Galanta.

Agree with most of your comments here, especially regarding the excellence and accessibility of the Cello Concerto and the gloominess/bleakness of the later symphonies.
"Music is enough for a lifetime, but a lifetime is not enough for music" - Sergei Rachmaninoff

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Aside from the famous ones, who is your favorite Soviet composer?
« Reply #31 on: June 04, 2020, 08:25:12 AM »
If Rachmaninoff, a staunchly anti-Bolshevik lesser aristocrat (described by Pravda as "especially dangerous on the ideological front of the current class war") who never set foot on USSR soil qualifies as Soviet, then next to him my favorites are Medtner and Bortkiewicz;D

EDIT: I see Brian beat me to it.

Now seriously speaking, I haven't listened to much Soviet music besides Shostakovich and Prokofiev but I liked anything I've heard by Khachaturyan and Kabalevsky. And recently I discovered the wonderful piano music of one Anatoly Alexandrov.

A composer I've been meaning to explore for ages but somehow never got to start the project is Myaskovsky.

For Myaskovsky/Miaskovsky Andrei I'd agree with Dima in recommending the concise and poetic Symphony No.21. If you like it you might enjoy the Cello Concerto, Second Cello Sonata, 5th Piano Sonata and symphonies 3,6,17,22,23 (v approachable),24,25 and the valedictory 27. The Violin Concerto is enjoyable as well.
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Offline kyjo

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Re: Aside from the famous ones, who is your favorite Soviet composer?
« Reply #32 on: June 04, 2020, 10:11:56 AM »
If forced to go with just one, I’d say Kabalevsky. His music often has more depth than it is credited for, not to mention a great sense of wit, inventiveness, and a gift for melody. Kabalevsky doesn’t plumb the psychological depths of human anguish like Shostakovich or Weinberg often do, so I find his music more conducive to frequent listening. His two string quartets, Symphony no. 2, Piano Concerto no. 2, Piano Sonata no. 2, and Cello Sonata have all been recent revelations of mine.
« Last Edit: June 04, 2020, 10:26:06 AM by kyjo »
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Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Aside from the famous ones, who is your favorite Soviet composer?
« Reply #33 on: June 04, 2020, 10:13:08 AM »
If forced to go with just one, I’d say Kabalevsky. His music often has more depth than it is credited for, not to mention a great sense of wit, inventiveness, and a gift for melody. Kabalevsky doesn’t plumb the psychological depths of human anguish like Shostakovich or (sometimes) Weinberg, so I find his music more conducive to frequent listening. His 2 string quartets, Symphony no. 2, Piano Concerto no. 2, Piano Sonata no. 2, and Cello Sonata have all been recent revelations of mine.

Very nice, Kyle. Sounds like I need to get out my Kabalevsky recordings. :)
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Offline kyjo

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Re: Aside from the famous ones, who is your favorite Soviet composer?
« Reply #34 on: June 04, 2020, 10:22:59 AM »
Very nice, Kyle. Sounds like I need to get out my Kabalevsky recordings. :)

Sounds like a plan, John! 8)
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Offline Dima

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Re: Aside from the famous ones, who is your favorite Soviet composer?
« Reply #35 on: June 04, 2020, 10:23:37 AM »
Despite that Kabalevsky wrote many classical compositions, he is mostly famous in Russia by his songs for children chor.
They are not well known abroad, because of russian language, but I also suppose them as his best achivements.
It is just that case when one song may costs as all his symphonies.
« Last Edit: June 04, 2020, 10:39:45 AM by Dima »

Offline CRCulver

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Re: Aside from the famous ones, who is your favorite Soviet composer?
« Reply #36 on: June 04, 2020, 07:11:02 PM »
Gubaidulina on the other hand, a friend of Silvestrov and Pärt etc., calling herself Russian, seems to adhere to the Russian version of the events in Ukraine, including the so-called Russian "humanitarian convoys" into it etc. https://russkiymir.ru/en/publications/235491/

Ouch. She sounds exactly like my elderly mother-in-law (another Soviet emigre), who leaves Russia’s Channel 1 on in the background all day, and then tends to simply repeat unthinkingly everything she has been hearing. And this from someone whose entire life in the USSR was spent among a dissident intelligentsia and experiencing great hardship at the hands of the authorities.

People naturally change as they get older and there have been plenty of cases of Soviet dissidents ultimately becoming pro-authoritarian (Solzhenitsyn is perhaps the most infamous). In that case, you almost have to be grateful that a composer like Alfred Schnittke died young, so that his legacy of humanism and resistance remained unstained. Imagine how painful for fans it would be if the composer who wrote Life with an Idiot started extolling Putin and the siloviki.
« Last Edit: June 04, 2020, 07:15:03 PM by CRCulver »

Offline MusicTurner

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Re: Aside from the famous ones, who is your favorite Soviet composer?
« Reply #37 on: June 04, 2020, 07:47:33 PM »
Ouch. She sounds exactly like my elderly mother-in-law (another Soviet emigre), who leaves Russia’s Channel 1 on in the background all day, and then tends to simply repeat unthinkingly everything she has been hearing. And this from someone whose entire life in the USSR was spent among a dissident intelligentsia and experiencing great hardship at the hands of the authorities.

People naturally change as they get older and there have been plenty of cases of Soviet dissidents ultimately becoming pro-authoritarian (Solzhenitsyn is perhaps the most infamous). In that case, you almost have to be grateful that a composer like Alfred Schnittke died young, so that his legacy of humanism and resistance remained unstained. Imagine how painful for fans it would be if the composer who wrote Life with an Idiot started extolling Putin and the siloviki.

That was more or less what I was thinking too ...

Offline springrite

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Re: Aside from the famous ones, who is your favorite Soviet composer?
« Reply #38 on: June 04, 2020, 07:53:40 PM »
Probably Medtner

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Offline Jo498

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Re: Aside from the famous ones, who is your favorite Soviet composer?
« Reply #39 on: June 04, 2020, 10:36:26 PM »
Medtner can hardly be considered "Soviet" (neither can Rachmaninoff). He left in 1921. I think composers who grew up and were established before the revolution should only be considered Soviet if they remained for some time and were somewhat appreciated by the Soviets. Someone like Lourié who was close to the Soviets at the very beginning but also left in 1921 is a borderline case.
I'd nominate Alexander Mosolov who was both one of the most interesting "Soviet Avantgarde" composers in the 1920s and eventually a victim of the totalitarian system.
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