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Cat. No. CHAN 9845 Price: £10.5 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 9845 - Grechaninov: Symphony No. 5 · Missa Oecumenica
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Available From: 14 September 2000
Grechaninov’s five symphonies span the first thirty-six years of a long and fruitful career spent in Russia and later in Paris, before the composer finally emigrated to the USA where he settled in New York in 1939. The Fifth Symphony was composed in 1936 during his Paris sojourn and was taken up by Leopold Stokowski who directed the Philadelphia Orchestra in its first performance on 5 April 1939. Like his Russian colleagues in exile, Glazunov and Rachmaninov, Grechaninov turned away from what was to become the fashionable modernism of the more radical Stravinsky in favour of a conservative style that took its bearings from the Russian nationalists – and, symphonically speaking, from Borodin and Tchaikovsky in particular.

Grechaninov developed a formally compact approach to the symphony, firmly rooted in orthodox tonal procedures and showing a command of the rich sonorities of the late nineteenth-century symphony orchestra, as one might expect from a composer who had learnt his trade at the conservatoire under Rimsky-Korsakov. Although his Fifth Symphony was composed in darkening times, there is little of the violence and tension that found its way into other contemporary works, in fact the mood may be compared to that of Borodin’s Second Symphony and the Russian heroic style surfaces throughout the work’s four movements.

The Missa oecumenica was composed in the same year as the Fifth Symphony and is a symphonic mass on a grand scale for soloists, chorus and large symphony orchestra. It was composed without specific commission and waited eight years for its first performance under Serge Koussevitsky. The title comes from Grechaninov’s desire to produce a universal work, and his music is combined with a type of choral declamation that derives its imagery from Russian Orthodox, Gregorian and Hebrew chant in a setting of the Roman Catholic liturgy.

‘Do yourself a treat and put it on your shopping list; you’ll love it’.

‘…Polyansky brings plenty of energy and excitement to the faster music…with their refined brass, nicely expressive solo winds, and resplendent strings, Polyansky’s Russian State Symphony is by far the best orchestra to essay this music so far.’
American Record Guide on CHAN 9486 (Symphony No. 2 etc.)

‘I recommend the new disc with enthusiasm, of course, but then I’d recommend any of them. Polyansky’s performances throughout the series are completely idiomatic, and he guides his forces through what can hardly be familiar repertoire with authority. The recorded sound is universally excellent… Go on, spoil yourself – get ‘em all!’
Fanfare on CHAN 9698 (Symphony No. 3 etc.)

‘Polyansky elicits splendid and utterly idiomatic performances of both works from the Russian State Symphony Orchestra and Symphonic Cappella’.
International Record Review

‘These are splendid, colourful and exciting performances to be set beside Polyansky’s other fine Grechaninov recordings for Chandos.’


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