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Record Box

Period Reflections

Grechaninov's symphonies,
with BASIL RAMSEY


Naxos    8.555410

Alexander Grechaninov: Symphonies Nos 1 and 2 (c) 2001 HNH International Ltd

 

In some ways the perfect musical reactionary, Grechaninov was a master of the period from which he rarely looked back, and certainly never forward. All he required was what he had in abundance without need of search. Yet that situation has dangers for the creative artist, which seem never to have concerned him.

These first two symphonies reflect the period, reflect the Russian musical psyche, and suited a composer gifted in a procession of mannerisms that could be weaved into patterns, colours and tempi appropriate for any situation. It all required skill and invention. Grechaninov had smatterings of invention and generous amounts of skill to build movements which emerged polished and ready for the ears of those who enjoyed the music of the age [listen -- track 3, 0:00-1:02].

Composers are a diverse tribe of craftsmen who rise above that to create inventively when other matters, not necessarily musical, are in some pattern that triggers creativity. It is at the brilliant end miraculous, and at the opposite and more populated end, a separate miracle of overlapping events. Gretchaninov typifies the talent that gives life and movement to unremarkable material, which occasionally gets snatched up into the unexpected. I don't feel that music quite deserves compliments until that mysterious element beyond our control has touched it.

 

Copyright © 15 August 2001 Basil Ramsey, Eastwood, Essex, UK

 

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Record Box is Music & Vision's regular Wednesday series of shorter CD reviews