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GLAZUNOV: Carnaval / Spring / Salome / Waltzes


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Alexander KonstantinovichGlazunov (1865 -1936)



 



Overture: Carnaval,Op. 45



Spring, Op. 34



Concert Waltz No.1,Op. 47



Concert Waltz No.2,Op. 51



Salome: Introductionand Dance, Op. 90



 



Alexander KonstantinovichGlazunov has not fared well at the hands of later critics. He enjoyed aremarkably successful career in music, becoming Director of the St PetersburgConservatory in 1905 in the aftermath of the political disturbances of thatyear, and retaining the position, latterly in absentia, for the next twenty-fiveyears. His earlier compositions were well received, but the very facility thathad attracted the attention and friendship of his teacher Rimsky-Korsakov wasto be held against him. A Russian critic could praise him for thereconciliation he had apparently effected between the Russian music of his timeand the music of Western Europe, but for a considerable time the Sovietauthorities regarded his music as bourgeois, while one of the most eminent ofwriters in the West on Russian music, Gerald Abraham, considered that it hadfallen to Glazunov to lead what he described as the comfortable decline ofRussian music into ignominious mediocrity. Recent critics have occasionallytaken a more balanced view of Glazunov's achievement. Due respect is paid to hissuccess in bringing about a synthesis of Russian and Western European music,the tradition of the Five and that of Rubinstein. Boris Schwarz has summarisedthe composer's career neatly, allowing him to have been a composer of imposingstature and a stabilising influence in a time of transition and turmoil.



 



Born in St Petersburg in 1865, the son ofa publisher and bookseller, as a child Glazunov showed considerable ability inmusic and in 1879 met Balakirev, who encouraged the boy to broaden his generalmusical education, while taking lessons from Rimsky-Korsakov. By the age ofsixteen he had completed the first of his nine symphonies, a work that wasperformed in 1882 under the direction of Balakirev, and further compositionswere welcomed by both factions in Russian musical life, the nationalist and theso-called German.



 



Glazunov continuedhis association with Rimsky-Korsakov until the latter's death in 1909. It wasin his company that he became a regular member of the circle of musicians underthe patronage of Belyayev, perceived by Balakirev as a rival to his owninfluence. Belyayev introduced Glazunov to Liszt, whose support led to thespread of the young composer's reputation abroad. The First Symphony wasperformed in Weimar in 1884, the Seconddirected by Glazunov at the 1889 Paris Exhibition. The Fourth and Fifthwere introduced to the London public in 1897. In 1899 Glazunov joined the staff ofthe Conservatory in St Petersburg and in 1905, when peace was restored to the institutionafter student demonstrations, he became Director, a position he held, nominallyat least, unti11930.



 



In 1928 Glazunov leftRussia to fulfil concertengagements abroad, finally, in 1932, making his home in Paris, where he died fouryears later. These last years took him to a number of countries, where heconducted concerts of his own works. In England a reporter comparedhis appearance to that of a prosperous retired tea- planter, with his goldwatch-chain spread across his starched white waistcoat, resembling, for all theworld, a well-to-do bank-manager. His views on modern music were often severe.

He found the Heldenleben of Richard Strauss disgusting and referred tothe composer as cet infilme scribouilleur. Of Stravinsky he remarkedthat he had irrefutable proof of the inadequacy of his ear. Nevertheless it wasunder his direction that the Conservatory produced a number of verydistinguished musicians. While Prokofiev did little to endear himself to Glazunov,Shostakovich received considerable encouragement and was unstinting in hisadmiration of the older composer as a marked influence on all the students withwhom he had contact, to whom Glazunov was a living legend.



 



Glazunov wrote his CarnavalOverture in 1892, dedicating it to Herman Laroche, a well known champion ofTchaikovsky and opponent of the new Russian School that Balakirev had nurtured.

The overture is scored for a large orchestra, with he optional use of an organin a central section marked Moderato. The work is in broadly classicalform, with contrasting melodic material, a lilting F major principal theme anda more gently lyrical secondary theme in C major. This is developed before itsfinal return.



 



The musical picture TheSpring (Vesna) was written in 1891. A rhapsodic work, it is prefaced by apoem on the subject by Fyodor Tyuchev, translator of Schelling, Heine, Goetheand Schiller, a poet associated with Pan-Slavism and described by Dostoyevskyas a philosopher-poet. The music brings the singing of birds in a gentlybreaking spring dawn, before mounting to a climax, the whole work colourfullyorchestrated, a testimony to Glazunov's early skill.



 



The two ConcertWaltzes, No.1 in D major and No.2 in F major, were written in 1893and 1894 respectively, the first of them presented to Rimsky-Korsakov togetherwith a copy of Glazunov's Chopiniana. Both works have enjoyedpopularity, skilfully constructed, colourful in orchestration and showing theusual early technical command of musical resources.



 



Oscar Wilde's Frenchplay Salome attracted wide attention. In 1892 Sarah Bernhardt hadplanned and begun to rehearse a production in London, but the intervention of theLord Chamberlain to prevent the appearance of biblical characters on the stageput a stop to this. Lord Alfred Douglas published an English translation in1894, with illustrations by Aubrey Beardsley, but it was with the opera basedon it by Richard Strauss in 1905 that the work reached the form in which it hasexercised the greatest influence, allowing composers to explore realms ofmusical sensuality that would before have been unthinkable. The play deals withthe supposed erotic desire of Herod for his step-daughter Salome, whose mother Herodiashas killed her husband to become the wife of the King. Salome is fascinated bythe captive John the Baptist, whom she desires and who rejects her advances.

Demanding as a reward for her dance of the seven veils the head of the prophet,she passionately kisses the severed head, before Herod orders her own death. Glazunov'sincidental music was written in 1908 and provides a portentous introduction anda dance of the seven veils of Polovtsian proportions.



 



Igor Golovschin



The Russian conductor Igor Golovschin wasborn in Moscow in 1956 andentered the piano class of the Special Music School at the age of six. In 1975 hejoined the class of Kyril Kondrashin at the Moscow Conservatory and in 1981joined the Irkutsk Symphony Orchestra, winning the Herbert von KarajanConductors' Competition in the following year, followed in 1983 by victory inthe Moscow National Conductors' Competition. Five years later he was invited tojoin the USSR State Symphony
Facts
Item number 8553838
Barcode 730099483827
Release date 01/01/2000
Category Romantic
Label Naxos Classics
Media type CD
Number of units 1
Performers
Composers Glazunov, Alexander Konstantinovich
Glazunov, Alexander Konstantinovich
Conductors Golovschin, Igor
Golovschin, Igor
Orchestras Moscow Symphony Orchestra
Moscow Symphony Orchestra
Producers Inc. Betta International
Inc. Betta International
Disc: 1
Salome, Op. 90: Incidental music to the play by Os
1 Carnaval, Op. 45
2 Spring, Op. 34
3 Concert Waltz No. 1, Op. 47
4 Concert Waltz No. 2, Op. 51
5 Introduction
6 Dance
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