Classical CD Reviews

UKRAINE COMPOSERS SERIES, Set One = POLSKY: Concerto for Domra and Orchestra; PODGORNY: Overture; MAMONTOV: Concert Polonaise; KLEBANOV: Suite No. 2 for Strings; 4 Preludes & Fugues for Orchestra


Published on May 17, 2005

UKRAINE COMPOSERS SERIES, Set One = POLSKY: Concerto for Domra and Orchestra; PODGORNY: Overture; MAMONTOV: Concert Polonaise; KLEBANOV: Suite No. 2 for Strings; 4 Preludes & Fugues for Orchestra
UKRAINE COMPOSERS SERIES, Set One = POLSKY: Concerto for Domra and
Orchestra; PODGORNY: Overture; MAMONTOV: Concert Polonaise; KLEBANOV:
Suite No. 2 for Strings; 4 Preludes & Fugues for Orchestra;
TSITSALUK: Elegie for Fr. Horn and Strings; STETSUN: Youth Overture;
GAYDENKO: Kursky Karagody; GUBARENKO: Kupalo; Chamber Sym. No. 2;
Choreographic Scenes from “Zaporozhtsy” – Kharkov Philharmonic
Orchestra of the Ukraine/Vakhtang Jordania – Angelok1 CD7710/7711 (2
discs) (Distr. by Albany Records), 71:09, 71:28 ****:

This special collection introduces music lovers who tend toward the
untrodden paths to various Ukrainian composers of the 20th century in
authoritative performances by an orchestra of their countrymen. The
Kharkov Philharmonic has a history going back to the early 19th
century, and this package was produced in commemoration of the city of
Kharkov’s 350th Anniversary. One of the strangest-named classical
labels (with the superscript 1 at the end), Angelok1 specializes in
bringing to CD some of the great music from the area of Russia.
Unfortunately, the sonics are often rather harsh and not up to
audiophile standards, and this collection is no exception.

However, some of the music is so fascinating and exotic that I for one
am willing to listen thru that. After all, all Soviet recordings
sounded like this on those Melodiya LPs of yore, and added to it was
surface noise and often serious distortion which at least is absent
here. One would expect folk instruments or folk themes to be involved
in some of these pieces, and that is true of at least two of them.
Podgorny’s Domra Concerto features the mandolin-like stringed
instrument which is heard in every kind of music in the Ukraine. Only
12 minutes long, it’s a tuneful romp in the style of much Soviet-era
classical works which were designed to be appreciated by the masses.
Not that there’s anything especially wrong with that. I really like
some of it – never mind the teeth-knashing that must have gone on with
some of the composers who longed to write more atonal stuff but weren’t
allowed. Actually, I think some of these works wouldn’t have passed
muster with the Soviet commissars of music.

Gaydenko’s Kursky Karagody teaches folk instruments, theory and history
at the Kharkov Institute of Culture, so his work explores folk elements
as expected. It opens with an atmospheric scene-setting and some of the
folk dance tunes and rhythms are spiced with occasional atonal and
percussion exclamations. An accordion is featured in the center
section. The French Horn Concerto by Tsitsaluk is a lovely work and
seems too short. The Preludes and Fugues of Klebanov seem rather
academic, as does Gubarenko’s Chamber Symphony, but his Choreographic
Scenes are certainly not chamber music – full of such wild sounds (but
still fairly tonal), that I pictured Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild
Things Are while listening. Sort of a Rimsky-Korsakov on psychedelics.

- John Sunier




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