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Cat. No. CHAN 10238 Price: £0 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 10238 - Glazunov: Symphony No. 6/ Characteristic Suite
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Available From: 09 August 2004
The Characteristic Suite is essentially an ad hoc collection of self-contained miniatures – a wide-ranging set of genre pieces. The teenage Glazunov started work on it under his teacher Rimsky-Korsakov’s supervision in 1881, and over the course of the next few years changed the order of the movements and introduced new episodes. The suite displays many of the nationalist precepts set down by Balakirev. The dactylic rhythms of the energetic Intermezzo scherzando, and its unusual, if over-extended scherzo in the Russian folk metre of 5/8, reveal Glazunov’s fascination with Borodin’s symphonic example. There are hints of Rimsky’s melting Snow Maiden in the plangent phrases of the ‘Élégie’, and Balakirev’s sinuous demoness Tamara is the godmother of the ‘Danse orientale’. The suite also includes a Polish Krakowiak and an Italian Tarantella.

The Characteristic Suite is a charming work by a promising young composer. The Sixth Symphony, by contrast, is a confident work of a composer’s creative high noon; an undeniably impressive work in its utterly original succession of dark-souled and lighthearted movements. By the time he wrote it, Glazunov had fully learnt all the tricks of his trade. The work may open with Tchakovskian gloom, but Glazunov’s essential wholesomeness and exuberant high spirits are ample compensation, and as the work concludes, musical festivities fly through a series of unusual metres only the Russians, with their feet firmly planted in the rhythmic freedom of their native folksong, would have dreamed of in the mid-1890s.

'Now Polyansky handily fills the void with a warm and satisfying reading, again not as crisply set forth as Svetlanov, but a sturdy embrace that suits this music very well and a full-bodied, colourful account that strides forward at the close in grand fashion.'
American Record Guide


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