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It is interesting that in the era of Soviet Marxist materialism, the very evident mystical sensibilities (so clearly descended from Scriabin -- though the era was awash in mystical notions, like Gurdjieff, Soloviev and others) were even temporarily tolerated. But it should come as no surprise that after a short time, these composers suffered greatly at the hands of the miserable cretins who wielded power. After a brief flourishing the hammer fell. The case of Roslavetz, who was erased from history, is tragic. But most of the others did not fare better. Here were composers of remarkable inspiration, possessing very developed techniques, who only required a place and time to create great music. These last they were denied. The loss is for all of culture. What has survived (and much was lost or destroyed, while a sad amount remains in limbo) is striking music.

Liadov and Glière were composers of late Romantic music, but their craft and inspiration create real beauty. Especially wonderful is the Prelude in D flat major by Liadov which is given a superb treatment -- with eloquent phrasing -- by Jenny Lin [listen -- track 1, 0:00-0:46].

An unusual case is the composer Nikolai Obouhov, who escaped Russia but not oblivion. Reduced to working as a bricklayer in Paris, he still managed to composer large quantities of mystically inclined music. I am not fully convinced by the examples played here, but I cannot accept that his music lies dormant in manuscript.

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Copyright © 31 July 2006 Gordon Rumson, Calgary, Canada


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