SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews
“Russian Composers around 1900” = LYSENKO: Ov. to Taras Bulba; SCRIABIN: Poem of Ecstasy; Reverie; GLAZUNOV: Vales de Concert No. 1; MIASKOVSKY: Symphony No. 21 in F sharp minor – Beethoven Orch. Bonn/ Stefan Blunier – MDG
Published on October 11, 2012
“Russian Composers around 1900” = LYSENKO: Overture to Taras Bulba; SCRIABIN: Poem of Ecstasy; Reverie Op. 24; GLAZUNOV: Vales de Concert No. 1 Op. 47; MIASKOVSKY: Symphony No. 21 Op. 51 in F sharp minor – Beethoven Orchester Bonn/ Stefan Blunier – MDG Live multichannel (2+2+2) SACD 937 1761-6 [Distr. by E1] ****:
An interesting program, in excellent sonics, with a less-than-interesting overall title. Lysenko—who lived until 1912—was thought of as the nationalist composer of the Ukraine. His opera Taras Bulba—which impressed Tchaikovsky—has a rousing overture which makes a great opener for the SACD, in this live recording made in Bonn last year. The Glazunov waltz is a tuneful little ditty with interesting percussion in it.
Scriabin’s most popular orchestral work, Le Poéme de L’Extase, is a fine introduction to the generally perfumed, highly sensual music of this composer, but unfortunately not in this lackluster performance by the Beethoven Orchester. It is laid back and restrained, unlike my favorite version: that of Leopold Stokowski, with Tchaikovsky’s Francesca Da Rimini and Hamlet on a terrific Everest/Omega reissue CD. Though plenty colorful, this version maintains a high degree of clarity and detail, and the fidelity is excellent—with the source being a three-channel 35mm mag film master. (I think these Everest/Omega reissues are the best quality any label has achieved on CD of Golden Age classical audiophile stereo masters; even better than the Mercuries—except for the few Mercury SACDs.)
The symphony by the 20th century Russian symphonist Miklai Miaskovsky dates from 1940 and is in a single 17-minute movement. It is one of 27 symphonies which he wrote during his lifetime. He tended to uphold the demand for Russian tradition in his use of folk melody here and there and traditional construction. The work is in three sections and generally of a elegiac and retrospective nature. Its middle section is in classical sonata form. In spite of his trying to please the Soviet Central Committee in his music, in 1948 he was hauled up and renounced as “formalistic”—just like Shostakovich and other Russian composers. Most of his recorded symphonies are on sonically-compromised Soviet-era recordings, so it is nice to have this one in hi-res SACD surround. Though recorded live, you wouldn’t know there was an audience present.