<< -- 2 -- Robert Anderson MUSICAL ELOQUENCE
Glazunov's response to such turmoil was to consolidate his position
musically and hold fast. Though he left Russia in 1928 for the Schubert
Centenary and did not return, he remained nominal director of the conservatoire
till 1930, surviving Lenin and also Stalin's initial years.
Younger composers such as Stravinsky, Prokofiev and Shostakovich rejected
him; Glazunov stuck to the conservative values of good sense and sound learning.
Of the music's competence there is never a doubt, even if inspiration
comes and goes. Yet Mendelssohn himself could hardly have improved on the
start of the Scherzo in Symphony No 5, deftly conceived and deliciously
scored [listen -- track 2, 0:00-0:59]. The slow
movement has a searching eloquence and charm, leading to an energetic finale
of bold panache [listen -- track 4, 0:00-1:00].
Symphony No 8 was the last that Glazunov completed. The outer movements
of both have passages of contrapuntal virtuosity, but it is the Mesto
slow movement, with its stormy start, that hints at the terrifying upheavals
of 1905 [listen -- track 6, 0:00-1:00]. This is
the most powerful passage in the two works, and some of its unease lingers
in the following Allegro [listen -- track 7,
0:00-0:40]. The playing under Alexander Anissimov is as accomplished
as the music. Where Glazunov is inclined to be bland, the orchestra gives
him all the pep and punch it can; where he is engaged in delicate imaginative
flights or a strenuous dialectic of cogent argument, the team is unstinting
in commitment and support.
Copyright © 14 July 2001
Robert Anderson, London, UK
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