Leningrad PO, Yevgeny Mravinsky - Alexander Glazunov: Symphonies Nos. 4 & 5; The Seasons, Op. 67 (2016)

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Leningrad PO, Yevgeny Mravinsky - Alexander Glazunov: Symphonies Nos. 4 & 5; The Seasons, Op. 67 (2016)

Alexander Glazunov: Symphonies Nos. 4 & 5; The Seasons, Op. 67 (2016)
Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Yevgeny Mravinsky

EAC | FLAC | Image (Cue&Log) ~ 408 Mb | Mp3 (CBR320) ~ 198 Mb | Scans included
Genre: Classical | Label: Praga Digitals | # PRD/DSD 350129 | Time: 01:19:23

A tribute to Alexander Glazunov who turned post-Tchaikovsky Russian musicians into true professionals. He was a composer emeritus and helped raise the profile of classical symphonies and ballet music before and after the Mighty Handful. Mvravinsky insisted on performing pieces by this incredibly selfless pedagogue which slip into the category of Romanticism, although he preferred the ‘banned’ compositions of his students such as the obstreperous young Stravinsky or the insufferably pretentious Prokofiev.

These are raw but vital readings and recorded in Glazunov's St Petersburg - then Leningrad - right up close to the listener. There's no escape and you would not want to unless you must have much greater audio sophistication. If so then you need Serebrier's cycle on Warner.

As it is the sound fills your loudspeakers and reaches out. This can be illustrated in the burred warmth of the third movement of the Fifth Symphony. Balletic sparks and sparkle crowd the room in the second movement. The outer movements are played with a wild-eyed enthusiasm and brilliance.

While the Fifth is probably Glazunov's most popular, the Fourth Symphony is very much stronger with gripping ideas, a stirring narrative and sanguine bubbling finale. It is in hyper-nationalist romantic language not a heartbeat's distance from the symphonies of Arensky and Kalinnikov. Ardent admirers of the Russian romantic symphony must hear this alongside the Melodiya versions by Nathan Rakhlin (sadly deleted vinyl only - HMV Melodiya ASD 3238) and Serebrier (Warner). The authentic burble of Soviet French horns in the first movement of the Fourth is just one marker of a grand tradition now much diluted. Those horns sing out in nocturnal warmth at the start of the finale of the Fourth.

There's evident affection in these Leningrad readings — not necessarily a quality you may associate with Mravinsky. He is punctilious with dynamic markings as you will hear in the micron-calibrated Scherzo of the Fourth; scherzos usually play to Glazunov's strengths anyway. For bristling and pulse-accelerating joy do catch the pizzicato strings in the finale of the Fourth.

We have seen these two symphony recordings before but not together. The Mravinsky Glazunov Fifth had pride of place on the conductor's volume in the Great Conductors of the Century series from IMP. As for his Fourth, a much earlier recording, it came out in the late 1990s from BMG-Melodiya and it was in sound less impressive than that miraculously and resonantly secured here by Praga.

The extracts from The Seasons is new - or it is to me. It has the pristine shiver and imaginative majesty of Boris Khaikin's 1960s complete recording with the USSRSO. Once again the mics are in tight, even intimidating, proximity to the orchestra. Couple this with an 'impossibly' fast Autumn in which Mravinsky seems to be channelling the spirit of that other wild-eyed Russian, Nikolai Golovanov, and you could never claim that this is boring. Did the corps-de-ballet really dance to this Bacchanale (tr.13)? The latter is, by the way, the only movement to suffer from distortion on the bass-drum crumps - it can be lived with. It remains a pity that we have only extracts from the ballet. There's applause at the end of The Seasons but nowhere else.

The CD is packed very fully. The liner-note in English and French is helpful and even specific on dates.

Prime Glazunov in elite readings from the 1940s and 1960s in all their muscular dazzle.

Review by Rob Barnett, MusicWeb-International.com

There are undoubtedly greater symphonies in the catalogue than those of Glazunov, but not many are so straightforwardly enjoyable, given performers who play them with passion. The two symphonies which provide the simplest pleasures, not least in the exciting finales, are Symphonies 4 and 5, both found on this disc of live performances by Yevgeny Mravinsky (1906-1988), now reissued in excellent sound by the enterprising Praga label. A great deal must have gone into the restoration of the sound: the 1948 recording of Symphony No. 4 is not noticeably inferior in quality to those from 1968, and there is none of the hiss or crackle which can sometimes prevent full enjoyment of historic recordings. Think rather of a sound quality similar to that found in good studio reissues from the 1960s. Nothing stands in the way of finding pleasure in these works.

And these are genuinely historic performances. Lovers of Tchaikovsky are familiar with Mravinsky’s legendary recordings of the last three symphonies, and his association with Shostakovich is well-known (he premiered the Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, Ninth and Tenth Symphonies). His fifty-year association with the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra is paralleled only by Ernest Ansermet’s half-century with the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, but, unlike Ansermet, was rarely able to travel abroad. For so many in the West, he is known only by reputation and recordings, so a release such as this, which increases our knowledge, is doubly welcome. The Mravinsky sound is characterised by driving rhythms but also attention to precise (if swift) phrasing. The sense of excitement is palpable, yet at the service of this energetic music. Listen, for instance, to the final movement of the Fifth Symphony. For me, the only comparable recording to bring out this intensity is the old Soviet-era recording by Rozhdestvensky, now available only as part of a box-set of the complete symphonies (Melodiya MELCD1001790) unless you are fortunate enough to find the coupling on the old Olympia disc. By a short head, I would place the Rozhdestvensky account ahead of the new CD, but that is not a reason not to enjoy the Mravinsky.

The extracts from The Seasons are an enjoyable reminder of Glazunov’s mastery of the ballet. But few would buy this CD to hear excerpts when there are excellent recordings of the complete ballet, notably from Svetlanov (my preference) and Neeme Järvi, among others.

Review by Michael Wilkinson, MusicWeb-International.com

Leningrad PO, Yevgeny Mravinsky - Alexander Glazunov: Symphonies Nos. 4 & 5; The Seasons, Op. 67 (2016)

Leningrad PO, Yevgeny Mravinsky - Alexander Glazunov: Symphonies Nos. 4 & 5; The Seasons, Op. 67 (2016)

rec. Philharmonic Hall, Leningrad, live, 28 September 1968 (5); 2 March 1948 (4);
28 September 1969, during a ballet festival (Seasons)


Symphony No. 5, Op. 55
01. I. Moderato maestoso - Allegro (11:04)
02. II. Scherzo (5:22)
03. III. Andante (8:56)
04. IV. Allegro maestoso-animato (7:01)

Symphony No. 4, Op. 48
05. I. Andante - Allegro moderato (13:01)
06. II. Scherzo (5:18)
07. III. Andante - Allegro (12:07)

The Seasons, Op. 67
08. Scene I - Introduction (3:24)
09. Scene II - Spring (5:23)
10. Scene III - Summer-entrance (2:29)
11. Scene IV - Autumn (0:47)
12. Seasons entrance (0:47)
13. Les Bacchantes (0:49)
14. Scene and Apotheosis (2:54)

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Yevgeny Mravinsky / celebrating Glazunov

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log date: 2017-05-23 01:26:52

Analyzed: Yevgeny Mravinsky / celebrating Glazunov

DR Peak RMS Duration Track
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DR10 -1.86 dB -15.68 dB 2:54 14-The Seasons - Scene and Apotheosis

Number of tracks: 14
Official DR value: DR11

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Codec: FLAC

Leningrad PO, Yevgeny Mravinsky - Alexander Glazunov: Symphonies Nos. 4 & 5; The Seasons, Op. 67 (2016)

All thanks to original releaser - GFox

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