Author Topic: Glazunov's glass of vodka  (Read 33665 times)

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Offline vandermolen

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Glazunov's glass of vodka
« on: June 01, 2008, 01:00:51 AM »
Any other admirers of Glazunov (1865-1936) other than me and David Mellor?

Often recalled for his (allegedly) drunken conducting of the disastrous premiere of Rachmaninov's First Symphony, Glazunov is, I think, a fine composer. All eight symphonies are available now on a very cheap Brilliant box set (Russian State SO, Polyansky..formerly on Chandos), with the Violin Concerto and other works. Symphony 2, 7 and 8 are my favourites+ the touching fragment of No 9.

Even the opinionated Norman Lebrecht has this to say of Glazunov:

"...a last-ditch saxophone concerto recaptures an effortless melodism that shows its regret for temps perdu in a passing quotation from Tcaikovsky's Pathetique Symphony."

An endearing figure, Glazunov protected his leftist and Jewish students (at the St Petersburg Conservatoire) from Tsarist expulsion, and later on, Shostakovich from communist interference. Lived with his mother but married Olga the housekeeper at 63, and adopted her pianist daughter.

"The Seasons" is one of my favourite works.
"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).

Harry

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Re: Glazunov's glass of vodka
« Reply #1 on: June 01, 2008, 04:40:38 AM »
For me all his Symphonies give great pleasure, and so are all the rest of his orchestral works.
Neeme Jarvi on Orfeo is the man, if it comes to his symphonies. I have the Polyanski set on Brilliant, but his tempi's do not make me very happen. he puts little enough effort in achieving all what is in it.
The Naxos issues are for me a complete disaster, sound wise, as performances, ditched that quite early.

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Glazunov's glass of vodka
« Reply #2 on: June 01, 2008, 05:33:24 AM »
For me all his Symphonies give great pleasure, and so are all the rest of his orchestral works.
Neeme Jarvi on Orfeo is the man, if it comes to his symphonies. I have the Polyanski set on Brilliant, but his tempi's do not make me very happen. he puts little enough effort in achieving all what is in it.
The Naxos issues are for me a complete disaster, sound wise, as performances, ditched that quite early.

Interesting! of course I have the Brilliant and the Naxos series >:( I do, however, have the Orfeo CD with Symphony No 8 etc on and it is very good. I must look out for the others. What about the series on BIS? there were some v good old Olympias.
"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 SonicMan46

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Re: Glazunov's glass of vodka
« Reply #3 on: June 01, 2008, 05:49:03 AM »
Well looks like another composer that I've neglected - have just one disc:

Symphony No. 5 et al w/ Jose Serebrier & the Royal Scottish National Orch on Warner Classics - probably bought this a while back from BRO - more offerings by the same conductors/orchestra of other Glazunov Symphonies; likely purchased the disc because of the six 5* reviews on Amazon HERE - will be curious about additional comments on these symphonies series!

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Glazunov's glass of vodka
« Reply #4 on: June 01, 2008, 06:54:28 AM »
Well looks like another composer that I've neglected - have just one disc:

Symphony No. 5 et al w/ Jose Serebrier & the Royal Scottish National Orch on Warner Classics - probably bought this a while back from BRO - more offerings by the same conductors/orchestra of other Glazunov Symphonies; likely purchased the disc because of the six 5* reviews on Amazon HERE - will be curious about additional comments on these symphonies series!

Yes, but that is an excellent disc and there is another one now in that series (Symphony No 8?)
"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 Dundonnell

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Re: Glazunov's glass of vodka
« Reply #5 on: June 01, 2008, 08:29:09 AM »
I first came across Glazunov back in the 1960s when the BBC used the opening of 'Autumn' from the Ballet "The Seasons" as the theme music for a drama series on the old Home Service. I can't remember the series now but the music was so strikingly attractive that I sought it out and eventually discovered that it was the Glazunov.

Glazunov was undoubtedly a talented composer-civilised, cultivated, melodious music, always optimistic and frequently colourful. As a distinguished pupil of Rimsky-Korsakov he was a masterful orchestrator. I have a good deal of his music in my collection-Symphonies Nos.
1, 2, 4, 5, 7 and 8 conducted by Rozhdestvensky in the Olympia series and Nos. 3 and 6 conducted by Yondani Butt on ASV, plus the Piano Concertos on Hyperion, the Violin Concerto with Oscar Shumsky and Neeve Jarvi on Chandos, a considerable number of the shorter orchestral pieces on Chandos and Naxos, and the big choral work 'The King of the Jews' with Rozhdestvensky on Chandos.

Ultimately, however, Glazunov seems to me a slightly disappointing composer. He seems to have run out of inspiration after composing his eight completed symphonies and there is little from him during the last twenty years of his life. The only orchestral pieces of any substance-and both of these are quite short-are the Concerto Ballata for cello and orchestra(1931) and the Saxophone Concerto(1934).
It is true that his teaching and administrative responsibilities at the St.Petersburg/Leningrad Conservatory took up a lot of his time and that his over-reliance on alcohol cannot have helped. His departure from Russia into exile in Paris in 1928 does not seem to have rekindled any great spark of inspiration.

The symphonies are pleasant works but-I find-lack that touch of real distinction which would make them truly memorable. There is a great deal in each of them which can count as noble and distinguished but then they are let down by passages which are facile note-spinning. Too often the finales are overblown and seem not to know when to stop. There is none of the shattering drama or tragic passion of Tchaikovsky.

I know that I am probably being rather unfair to a generous man and a great teacher and that comparing Glazunov to a genius like Tchaikovsky is unjust. I do 'like' Glazunov's music and there are a number of the shorter orchestral pieces where colour and passion are certainly in evidence but I just don't think that, in the last analysis, I could rate him as other than a second division composer.

Harry

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Re: Glazunov's glass of vodka
« Reply #6 on: June 01, 2008, 08:35:35 AM »
Interesting! of course I have the Brilliant and the Naxos series >:( I do, however, have the Orfeo CD with Symphony No 8 etc on and it is very good. I must look out for the others. What about the series on BIS? there were some v good old Olympias.

As you may know, I gave away the box from BIS, thoroughly dissatisfied with the outcome as a whole. I did not find the recordings as good as I use to hear from this source, and orchestra as well as conductor eluded the essence of Glazunov, for me there was not one idiomatic note in it, that I could relate to this composer. I am well aware that the critics liked this set, but for me, again disappointing!
The Olympia recordings are much better, but not as good as I found the Jarvi set to be.

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Glazunov's glass of vodka
« Reply #7 on: June 01, 2008, 09:00:17 AM »
As you may know, I gave away the box from BIS, thoroughly dissatisfied with the outcome as a whole. I did not find the recordings as good as I use to hear from this source, and orchestra as well as conductor eluded the essence of Glazunov, for me there was not one idiomatic note in it, that I could relate to this composer. I am well aware that the critics liked this set, but for me, again disappointing!
The Olympia recordings are much better, but not as good as I found the Jarvi set to be.

No, I didn't know that. Thanks anyway. I will look out for the Orfeo version of No 2 which is probably my favourite.
"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 Marcel

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Re: Glazunov's glass of vodka
« Reply #8 on: June 01, 2008, 11:39:33 AM »
I like Glazunov. Not heard many of his pieces though. I have Jarvi's set, waiting for listening. I am very satisfied with his Violin concerto (Vengerov, Abbado - BP) - great finale movement (especially orchestration) !

Offline Brian

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Re: Glazunov's glass of vodka
« Reply #9 on: June 02, 2008, 01:29:04 PM »
My sole Glazunov album is this one:



Absolutely stupendous - one of my favorite CDs. The Novelettes are certainly appealing, but the Quintet is wonderful, a youthful and VERY tuneful masterpiece. The Fine Arts Quartet are one of my favorite ensembles; they are the only SQ I can identify listening blindly, too. I have been very, very afraid to buy any more Glazunov CDs, because everybody else seems to think he is mediocre and I am simply terrified of the possibility that hearing more of his stuff will decrease my high esteem for these beautiful works. However, this thread is giving me some ideas of further works to check out, including his Violin Concerto. It seems to me that smaller-scale or maybe just younger Glazunov is better to explore...
« Last Edit: June 02, 2008, 01:30:46 PM by Brian »

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Glazunov's glass of vodka
« Reply #10 on: June 02, 2008, 01:39:02 PM »
My sole Glazunov album is this one:



Absolutely stupendous - one of my favorite CDs. The Novelettes are certainly appealing, but the Quintet is wonderful, a youthful and VERY tuneful masterpiece. The Fine Arts Quartet are one of my favorite ensembles; they are the only SQ I can identify listening blindly, too. I have been very, very afraid to buy any more Glazunov CDs, because everybody else seems to think he is mediocre and I am simply terrified of the possibility that hearing more of his stuff will decrease my high esteem for these beautiful works. However, this thread is giving me some ideas of further works to check out, including his Violin Concerto. It seems to me that smaller-scale or maybe just younger Glazunov is better to explore...

Thanks v much for this. I don't know this music or CD. Must investigate.
"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 Dundonnell

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Re: Glazunov's glass of vodka
« Reply #11 on: June 02, 2008, 01:53:02 PM »
Any other admirers of Glazunov (1865-1936) other than me and David Mellor?

Often recalled for his (allegedly) drunken conducting of the disastrous premiere of Rachmaninov's First Symphony, Glazunov is, I think, a fine composer. All eight symphonies are available now on a very cheap Brilliant box set (Russian State SO, Polyansky..formerly on Chandos), with the Violin Concerto and other works. Symphony 2, 7 and 8 are my favourites+ the touching fragment of No 9.

Even the opinionated Norman Lebrecht has this to say of Glazunov:

"...a last-ditch saxophone concerto recaptures an effortless melodism that shows its regret for temps perdu in a passing quotation from Tcaikovsky's Pathetique Symphony."

An endearing figure, Glazunov protected his leftist and Jewish students (at the St Petersburg Conservatoire) from Tsarist expulsion, and later on, Shostakovich from communist interference. Lived with his mother but married Olga the housekeeper at 63, and adopted her pianist daughter.

"The Seasons" is one of my favourite works.

I must admit to never having heard the Saxophone Concerto. Any idea what it sounds like?

I am not a great fan of Rachmaninov's later music-too honeyed for my taste-but the 1st Symphony is a masterpiece!  As Robert Simpson said-if Rachmaninov had followed it "with advancing successors, he would have been one of the great symphonists of the first half of the twentieth century".
Glazunov's disastrous premiere of the symphony as conductor did incaculable damage to the young Rachmaninov's confidence and-of course-led to him destroying the score. The symphony was not reconstructed until after his death in 1943. This is the one serious blot on Glazunov's otherwise impeccable record as a supporter of and mentor to his talented students.

I do also think that Rachmaninov's 1st is much superior to any of Glazunov's symphonies!

Sorry, Jeffrey...but we must disagree about something, don't we :) :)

Greta

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Re: Glazunov's glass of vodka
« Reply #12 on: June 02, 2008, 04:15:28 PM »
Glazunov - a very, very talented composer.

Being a saxophone player, I of course came to know him through the Saxophone Concerto, which is "the" first staple a serious student encounters, it is beautiful, gorgeous music and tremendously fun to play, difficult without being too frustrating to learn and lays well under the hands, full of opportunities to display individual musicianship. His Saxophone Quartet is also superb, from the same period. Very hard!

Otherwise, I love The Seasons, a totally delightful work, and very much enjoy the Violin Concerto.  :D

Dundonnell and others there are many recordings of the Saxophone Concerto, though often a bit hard to find. But you absolutely must hear it!

I uploaded a recording of it, a famous one by the French saxophonist Eugene Rousseau. I apologize in advance for the "dated" sound, and playing though - while phenomenal technically, his tone is the "mid-century French" style, rather fast and wide vibrato.

Link: http://www.mediafire.com/?d0fmudnngjf

I am quite curious what you will think of the piece!! It's extremely romantic and dramatic with a very cool cadenza and dance section. Repetitive at times, and to me sounds a bit dated compared to some of our other concertos of that era (like say, the awesome Ibert Concertino!) But nevertheless a lovely confection. :)

EDIT: To add, I'm not sure "how" it originally happened exactly, but would go as far as to say the Glazunov might be rightfully considered the most famous concerto for our instrument! It is listed on nearly every audition rep sheet I can think of.

He wrote the piece for the great Danish performer/teacher Sigurd Rascher, and then it was championed at the Paris Conservatoire further by Rousseau, so I believe that explains it's rise to popularity . Sadly Glazunov perhaps never lived to see it performed, though, it was one of the last pieces he completed.

Read here: http://www.dornpub.com/SaxjPDF/glazounov.pdf
« Last Edit: June 02, 2008, 04:23:28 PM by Greta »

Offline SonicMan46

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Re: Glazunov's glass of vodka
« Reply #13 on: June 02, 2008, 05:03:42 PM »
Glazunov - a very, very talented composer......................Being a saxophone player.....

Greta - thanks for your delightful & instructive post!  :D

I love the saxophone (mainly have jazz recordings) and would like to explore these Glazunov works - any specific 'modern' recommendations that you can recommend?  TIA -  :)

Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Glazunov's glass of vodka
« Reply #14 on: June 02, 2008, 05:20:19 PM »
Well, I shall certainly look out the Saxophone Concerto now!

Oddly, apart from the Rousseau version, there are two different versions on the Naxos label!!

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Glazunov's glass of vodka
« Reply #15 on: June 02, 2008, 10:26:48 PM »
I must admit to never having heard the Saxophone Concerto. Any idea what it sounds like?

I am not a great fan of Rachmaninov's later music-too honeyed for my taste-but the 1st Symphony is a masterpiece!  As Robert Simpson said-if Rachmaninov had followed it "with advancing successors, he would have been one of the great symphonists of the first half of the twentieth century".
Glazunov's disastrous premiere of the symphony as conductor did incaculable damage to the young Rachmaninov's confidence and-of course-led to him destroying the score. The symphony was not reconstructed until after his death in 1943. This is the one serious blot on Glazunov's otherwise impeccable record as a supporter of and mentor to his talented students.

I do also think that Rachmaninov's 1st is much superior to any of Glazunov's symphonies!

Sorry, Jeffrey...but we must disagree about something, don't we :) :)

Actually Colin, I don't really disagree with you and I've just received the v good value Ashkenazy box set (Decca) of the Rachmaninov Symphonies with "The Bells", "Isle of the Dead" etc. I too agree with Robert Simpson. Rachmaninov's First Symphony is a masterpiece. I love the start of the finale (and am old enough to remember it being used as the music for "This Week" or "Tonight" or some such TV news programme decades ago). The ending, where the whole thing topples finally into the abyss is magnificent. But, I still like Glazunov and I think that there is a very moving poignancy about his Symphony No 8 which, I beleive, lifts it above some of his other symphonies  :)
"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 Dundonnell

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Re: Glazunov's glass of vodka
« Reply #16 on: June 03, 2008, 03:25:40 PM »
Actually Colin, I don't really disagree with you and I've just received the v good value Ashkenazy box set (Decca) of the Rachmaninov Symphonies with "The Bells", "Isle of the Dead" etc. I too agree with Robert Simpson. Rachmaninov's First Symphony is a masterpiece. I love the start of the finale (and am old enough to remember it being used as the music for "This Week" or "Tonight" or some such TV news programme decades ago). The ending, where the whole thing topples finally into the abyss is magnificent. But, I still like Glazunov and I think that there is a very moving poignancy about his Symphony No 8 which, I beleive, lifts it above some of his other symphonies  :)

Ah well, I tried :) :)

The Ashkenazy performance of Rachmaninov's 1st is superb, isn't it? There is an excellent wikipedia article about the work-

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Symphony_No._1_%28Rachmaninoff%29

Unfortunately it doesn't help in identifying the TV news programme you(and I) remember!

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Glazunov's glass of vodka
« Reply #17 on: June 04, 2008, 10:07:12 AM »
Ah well, I tried :) :)

The Ashkenazy performance of Rachmaninov's 1st is superb, isn't it? There is an excellent wikipedia article about the work-

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Symphony_No._1_%28Rachmaninoff%29

Unfortunately it doesn't help in identifying the TV news programme you(and I) remember!

The wikipedia article is indeed excellent; thanks very much for the link. I do like the Ashkenazy set; v powerful performances. As to TV programmes from the past, Glazunov's 'Finnish Fantasy' (together with Tchaikovsky's Manfred Symphony) was used as background music for the Nicola Paget version of Anna Karenina, which must have been televised in the 1970s I guess. Coincidentally, I am currently listening to Constant Lambert's film music for the Vivien Leigh version of Anna Karenina (new Chandos release).
"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 SonicMan46

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Re: Glazunov's glass of vodka
« Reply #18 on: July 01, 2009, 05:32:11 AM »
TTT!  :D  Below is a quoted post that I just left in the listening thread on the Solo Piano Works of this composer performed marvelously by Stephen Coombs!

This has now stimulated my interest in obtaining more of his Symphonies, still just have the one shown a year ago when this thread was active - amazed that there has been NO activity since that time.

So, over the last year, any further comments on the works of Glazunov, any 'new' releases, and recommendations - I'm reviewing the Brilliant release of the orchestral works (shown below) which was discussed in this thread earlier - seems to have 'mixed' comments w/ Harry being of a negative opinion, but the package is 'generous & cheap' - thanks all!  :)



Glazunov, Alexander (1865-1936) - Solo Piano Music, Vols. 1 & 2 w/ Stephen Coombs - I own little of this composer's music (Piano Concertos w/ Coombs & one symphony); apparently Coombs recorded four volumes of these solo works for keyboard - BRO had just the first two.

The variety of music of these two discs is marvelous & the playing dazzling - listings for all 4 discs & brief comments can be found on the Hyperion Website HERE:)

 

DFO

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Re: Glazunov's glass of vodka
« Reply #19 on: July 01, 2009, 07:20:01 AM »
I love his chamber and concert music. Have his 7 string quartets, the string quintet, the sax quartet and concerto, the v.c.,the cello and orch.works, and all his short pieces and movements for string quartet.