This albums couples the rare John Of Damascus with one of the most popular symphonies in the repertoire, Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony.
The Russian scholar Boris Asaf’yev noted that Taneyev, ’like no other composer, lived and worked immersed in the world of ideas, in the development of abstract concepts’. He is, in the fact, a lone figure in nineteenth-century Russian music, owing nothing to the tradition established by Glinka, and disapproving of contemporary nationalistic composers. His great strength was his magnificent command of compositional technique which is unsurpassed by any Russian composer of his period - his scores are amongst the most orderly and polished in Russian composer of his period - his scores are amongst the most orderly and polished in Russian music. His best music has passages of real distinctiveness which more than merit attention today, as this recording clearly shows.
John of Damascus is one of two large-scale monuments to religious choral music. cast in three movments. Taneyev provides some superb choral writing moulded into a solid and dramatic structure. The three movements follow the path from world-weary resignation to jubilant evangelism in an excerpt from the biblically-inspired poem of Alexei Tolstoy.
Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony barely needs introduction. First performed in Moscow in 1878, it has become one of the most popular works in the repertoire. From the striking opening fanfare to the thrilling finale, it ranks as one of the most colourful and finest symphonic works of the nineteenth century.