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Lesser known Russian/Soviet composers

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vandermolen:
Since we've had threads devoted to American, British, Scandinavian and Japanese composers, I thought that it was time for a Russian/Soviet one. Of the lesser known ones, Miaskovsky stands out for me, a key linking figure between the 19th Century nationalist figures (Rimsky, Borodin, Tchaikovsky, Balakirev, Liadov etc) and the great 20th Century figures like his friend Prokofiev and Shostakovich. Miaskovsky is well served on CD now with a complete set of symphonies on Warner and the Olymia/Alto set of symphonies being completed in August. In some ways, though, the best introduction is the one and only Naxos CD of Miaskovsky symphonies, containing two of the best, No 24 and 25. There is a separate Miaskovsky thread here too.

Gavril Popov (1904-72) is another great figure, whose First Symphony is the only one I know, apart from Vainberg's (or Weinberg's) Symphony No. 5 which stands comparison with Shostakovich's 4th Symphony. A terrifically compelling manic score.

Vissarion Shebalin (1902-63) is another composer whose music has meant a lot to me, especially symphonies 1 (like Miaskovsky) and the moving, valedictory 5th Symphony. Sadly, with the demise of Olympia his music is now difficult to find on CD.

Finally, for now, there is Vadim Salmanov (1912-78) , whose four symphonies, on a double CD set are well worth exploring. Mravinsky obviously thought highly of them as he recorded them all. Nos 1 and 4 are my favourites, No 2 is also a fine score. I have been listening to No 4 a lot recently. It was premiered by Mravinsky in 1977, not long before Salmanov's death (the performance is the one featured in the set) and there is a photo of Mravinsky and Salmanov together, at the premiere in the accompanying booklet. One critic described it as a "farewell symphony" and the last movement is very touching. The symphonies are a bit derivative of Shostakovich but I think that Salmanov is still well worth exploring. I am about to explore his string quartets, which are highly regarded by some.

These are just a few composers, but I look forward to reading about others.

some guy:
Good idea, Vandermolen. It's still a bit of an effort to find Russian composers. Or Lithuanian, Estonian, Latvian, et cetera. Even in 2008.

I have, for instance, only one CD of the very talented and interesting Tarnopolski, who has made it onto CD only one or two other times, who is still fairly young, but try finding anything new by him!

I have three CDs of Tishchenko, which means the seventh symphony, the third symphony, the concerto for violin, piano, and strings, and the string quartet no. 4. (This last is something a Russian friend of mine burned for me years ago, so I don't yet have the first quartet, which is coupled with the fourth.)

Even the indefatigable IMEB has only come up with a couple of people doing electroacoustics. Eduard Artemiev is one. (I have his dark and almost orchestral "I would like to return" on the stereo as I type this.)

vandermolen:
Thank you Some Guy  :)

I never heard of Tarnopolski and the others (apart from Tishchenko), but will see what I can discover.

Dundonnell:
You are, of course, quite correct in what you say about Miaskovsky, Jeffrey, so I shall take that as read.

I agree too about Popov. It is unfortunate that Olympia did not get around to issuing recordings of Popov's 3rd and 4th symphonies before its demise. The other four are all interesting works. There is a Telarc version of No.1(London symphony Orchestra/Leon Botstein) which i have not heard.

Olympia did manage to issue a complete set of the Shebalin and his symphonies too are attractive and rewarding.

Can I mention one or two others then-

Boris Tchaikovsky(no relative) is an extremely impressive composer of obvious real integrity. I have managed to build up a collection of most of his major orchestral works-the four symphonies, the piano, violin, cello and clarinet concerti, and a considerable number of other pieces. Naxos has done him a service by recording Symphony No.1 coupled with two good pieces-the Suites "The Mourning Forest" and "After the Ball" and the piano and clarinet concerti. Chandos has issued Symphony No.3 "Sebastopol" and there is a really good Hyperion disc with the Chamber Symphony, Sinfonietta, Six Etudes for Strings and Organ and the Prelude "The Bells". Perhaps the best Symphony is No.2(coupled with No.4-Symphony with Harp on Relief or with some Khachaturian on Russian Disc).
Boris certainly stands in the wake of Shostakovich but is no mere imitator and his music is being promoted by a Boris Tchaikovsky Society.

Tishchenko I find to be uneven. I like Symphony No.5 and the Violin Concerto No.2(both following Shostakovich's model) but haven't been able to come to terms with Symphony No.1 or the huge Symphony No.6. Naxos has issued the Seventh Symphony-an odd work which mixes some impressive passages with others which are bizzarely grotesque. I have just acquired Tishchenko's first two Dante Symphonies but have not yet listened to them.

Neeme Jarvi recorded Maximilian Steinberg's early Symphonies Nos. 1 and 2. Steinberg(1883-1946) was Rimsky-Korsakov's son-in-law and Shostakovich's teacher. The first two symphonies did not strike me as particularly inspired but they were written while Steinberg was still in his twenties. He wrote three more(1928, 1933 and 1942-the last two using themes from the Russian Asiatic Republics) which might be interesting.

I did recently manage to buy an ancient recording of Kabalevsky's 4th Symphony-a work which turned out to be better than I had anticipated!

I haven't heard a note of the Soviet era composer Yuri Shaporin(1887-1966), who was once highly regarded but I do have a recording of Lev Knipper's Symphony No.4 "Poem of the Komsomol Fighter". Knipper(1898-1974) was, strictly speaking, Georgian rather than Russian but he did work under the Soviet regime. He produced twenty symphonies, many on patriotic subjects, which I doubt will now see the light of day!

Ok..there are a few more names for you :)

vandermolen:

--- Quote from: Dundonnell on July 13, 2008, 03:57:53 PM ---You are, of course, quite correct in what you say about Miaskovsky, Jeffrey, so I shall take that as read.

I agree too about Popov. It is unfortunate that Olympia did not get around to issuing recordings of Popov's 3rd and 4th symphonies before its demise. The other four are all interesting works. There is a Telarc version of No.1(London symphony Orchestra/Leon Botstein) which i have not heard.

Olympia did manage to issue a complete set of the Shebalin and his symphonies too are attractive and rewarding.

Can I mention one or two others then-

Boris Tchaikovsky(no relative) is an extremely impressive composer of obvious real integrity. I have managed to build up a collection of most of his major orchestral works-the four symphonies, the piano, violin, cello and clarinet concerti, and a considerable number of other pieces. Naxos has done him a service by recording Symphony No.1 coupled with two good pieces-the Suites "The Mourning Forest" and "After the Ball" and the piano and clarinet concerti. Chandos has issued Symphony No.3 "Sebastopol" and there is a really good Hyperion disc with the Chamber Symphony, Sinfonietta, Six Etudes for Strings and Organ and the Prelude "The Bells". Perhaps the best Symphony is No.2(coupled with No.4-Symphony with Harp on Relief or with some Khachaturian on Russian Disc).
Boris certainly stands in the wake of Shostakovich but is no mere imitator and his music is being promoted by a Boris Tchaikovsky Society.

Tishchenko I find to be uneven. I like Symphony No.5 and the Violin Concerto No.2(both following Shostakovich's model) but haven't been able to come to terms with Symphony No.1 or the huge Symphony No.6. Naxos has issued the Seventh Symphony-an odd work which mixes some impressive passages with others which are bizzarely grotesque. I have just acquired Tishchenko's first two Dante Symphonies but have not yet listened to them.

Neeme Jarvi recorded Maximilian Steinberg's early Symphonies Nos. 1 and 2. Steinberg(1883-1946) was Rimsky-Korsakov's son-in-law and Shostakovich's teacher. The first two symphonies did not strike me as particularly inspired but they were written while Steinberg was still in his twenties. He wrote three more(1928, 1933 and 1942-the last two using themes from the Russian Asiatic Republics) which might be interesting.

I did recently manage to buy an ancient recording of Kabalevsky's 4th Symphony-a work which turned out to be better than I had anticipated!

I haven't heard a note of the Soviet era composer Yuri Shaporin(1887-1966), who was once highly regarded but I do have a recording of Lev Knipper's Symphony No.4 "Poem of the Komsomol Fighter". Knipper(1898-1974) was, strictly speaking, Georgian rather than Russian but he did work under the Soviet regime. He produced twenty symphonies, many on patriotic subjects, which I doubt will now see the light of day!

Ok..there are a few more names for you :)

--- End quote ---


Thanks Colin  :)

As always, we seem to be in agreement. I do have a B Tchaikovsky CD somewhere (Russian disc I think). I had not made much of it before but following your posting I am going to search it out and explore some of his other works. I didn't realise that there was anything on Naxos. I agree about Tischenko; I have the Olympias not the VC and Symphony 5.

My main point of agreement is concerning Kabalevsky Symphony No 4, which I would love to hear a modern recording of (Chandos?). It invariably gets a bad press but I enjoyed it very much. I have it on a very old Olympia CD, double album with K's overblown requiem, which I do find rather heavy going. His masterpiece I think is his wonderful, deeply felt Cello concerto No 2, which contradicts those who suggests that all his music was facile and superficial. The notorious Tikhon Khrennikov's Second Symphony is not without depth either.

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