SymphonyNo. 3 in B Minor, Op. 42
Reinhold Glière (Reyngol'd MoritsevichGlier), a Soviet composer of Belgian descent, was born in Kiev in 1875, the sonof a maker of wind instruments. He played the violin and wrote music at homeand studied for three years at the Kiev Conservatory before entering the MoscowConservatory in 1894. There he studied the violin with Hrimaly, and compositionwith Taneyev, taking lessons in harmony from Arensky and his pupil Konyus andin orchestration from Ippolitov-Ivanov. He graduated in 1900 with a one-actopera-oratorio Earth and Heaven, based on Byron.
Glière'sfirst employment was as a teacher at the Gnesin Music School, and he was tospend the summer holidays of 1902 and 1903 as tutor to the eleven-year-oldProkofiev. For two years from 1905 he studied conducting with Oscar Fried inBerlin, making his first appearance as a conductor in Russia in 1908, while hiscompositions continued to make a favourable impression. In 1913 he returned to Kievto teach the composition class at the Conservatory, of which he became directorthe following year. His former pupil Prokofiev was to appear as soloist in Kievin his own first piano concerto under Glière's direction in 1916.
From1920 until his retirement in 1941 Glière taught composition at the Conservatoryin Moscow. He showed particular interest in the music of the various ethnicminorities of the Soviet Union, making a detailed study of the music ofAzerbaijan that bore fruit in his opera Shakh-Senem, written in 1924 andperformed in Russian in Baku three years later and in Azerbaijani in 1934. Hismusicological investigations extended to Uzbekistan and other Soviet republics,while the more familiar music of the Ukraine provided him with another nativesource of inspiration.
Duringhis career Glière occupied anumber of official positions. In the early years ofthe Revolution he headed the music section of the Moscow Department of PopularEducation and was Chairman of the organizing committee of the Union of SovietComposers from 1938 until 1948. His work was officially recognised by variousstate awards, including the title of People's Artist, bestowed in 1938. He diedin Moscow in 1956.
Asa composer Glière was heir to the Russian romantic tradition, something thatbrought him official praise in 1948 when the music of Prokofiev andShostakovich was condemned. In particular his ballet music proved popular. TheRed Poppy, later known as The Red Flower, to obviate misunderstanding,satisfied polilical choreographic demands, and became a well known part ofballet repertoire from 1926 onwards, and the later ballet-score The BronzeHorseman, completed in 1949, retains a place in Soviet ballet repertoire.
Glièrecompleted his third symphony in 1911 , choosing to base it on the legend ofIl'ya Muromets, the subject of ancient Russian epic. Il'ya Muromets isdescribed as the son of a peasant and appears in a number of early Russianpoems, to be identified, it is thought, with the pagan god Pyerun, but eventuallyabsorbed into Christian tradition. One group of Russian epics, or byliny, isconcerned with the older heroes or bogatyri, of which Il'ya Muromets andSvyatogor are among the most important. The former, remarkable among otherthings as the son of a peasant, was weak, without the use of his legs, for thefirst 33 years of his life, but strength came to him by a miracle, when twopassing travellers, wandering pilgrims, gave him a draught of honey. Hisexploits in the service of Vladimir Fair Sun, to be identified either with thehistorical St. Vladimir, the first Christian ruler of Kiev, or with a laterprince, Vladimir Monomakh, were remarkable in wars against pagan enemies, muchassisted, in one century or the other, by a horse that could fly over the land.
Of uncertain temper, in anger he once destroyed the domes and spires of thechurches of Kiev, but when death approached he built a cathedral in Kiev andwhen he died his body was turned to stone, and so remains to this day, as theepics tell us.
Thesymphony opens with a slow and evocative introduction, a horn call piercing themists of medieval Russia, as excitement mounts, the hero springs to life,riding his wonderful horse to find the bogatyr Svyatogor, whom he greetsrespectfully. The two leap on their horses and ride a lang time over the HolyMountains, taking pleasure on their journey in heroic games. They find a largecoffin in which Svyatogor lays himself and cannot be raised from its depths.
Before he dies he gives wise counsel ta Il'ya, who receives the strength of thedead hero and rides on ta Kiev.
Soloveythe Brigand lives in the forest, sheltered in a grove of seven oak-trees. Hewhistles like a nightingale and sends out fierce cries, and all the men in hiscountry lie dead. Three girls help ta lure his victims to their doom. When hehears Il'ya Muromets approaching, Solovey whistles and utters his harsh cries,but the hero draws his bow and shoots a shaft of glowing iron, piercing thebrigand's right eye. He ties Solovey ta his stirrup and drags him to the palaceof Prince Vladimir. The movement starts with an eerie string figure, andfollows in general the traditional story, moving from the sinister to thelyrical, before dramatic action intervenes once more.
Thethird movement is set at the court of Prince Vladimir, known as Fair Sun, in ascherzo. The Prince is giving a feast for his nobles and the bogatyrs.
Approaching the palace gates, Il'ya Muromets bids Solovey whistle and utter hisharsh cries, the roof of the palace trembles, and the nobles fall down in fear,except for Vladimir, who remains standing. Il'ya cuts off Solovey's head and iswelcomed by Vladimir as a knight at his table.
Thelongest of the four movements deals with the brave exploits of Il'ya Murometsagainst the enemies of Christian Kiev, led by Batygha the Wicked. He fightsagainst Oudalaya Polyenitsa for twelve days and nights, beheading him andcarrying his severed head back on a lance. Other enemies arise, two warriorswho increase in number as each one falls. In flight Il'ya Muromets and thebogatyrs are turned to stone, and this is the reason for the absence ofbogatyrs today.
Czecho-SlovakRadio Symphony Orchestra (Bratislava)
TheCzecho-Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra (Bratislava), the oldest symphonicensemble in Slovakia, was founded in 1929. The orchestra's first conductor wasFrantišek Dyk and over the past sixty years it has worked under the directionof several prominent Czech and Slovak conductors. The orchestra has made manyrecordings for the Naxos label ranging from the ballet music of Tchaikovsky tomore modern works by composers such as Copland, Britten and Prokofiev. ForMarco Polo the orchestra has recorded works by Glazunov, Glière, Rubinstein andother late romantic composers and film music of Honegger, Bliss, Ibert andKhachaturian.
TheAmerican conductor Donald Johanos was educated at Eastman School of Music, withfurther stud