Glazunov, Glire, Glinka, Grechaninov, Rachmaninov, Taneyev & Shostakovich

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COMPOSERS: Glazunov,Glinka,Glire,Grechaninov,Rachmaninov,Taneyev & Shostakovich
LABELS: Chandos
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Tsar of Instruments
WORKS: Works by Glazunov, Glière, Glinka, Grechaninov, Rachmaninov, Taneyev & Shostakovich
PERFORMER: Iain Quinn (organ)
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN 10043
The organ and its music sit uneasily in Russian culture, being the instrument of neither church nor state, and such literature as there is tends to be either concert pieces, often for the pre-revolutionary nobility, or the work of émigré composers. Some of the more captivating offerings from this infertile ground are proffered on this disc, Taneyev’s Choral varié, Glazunov’s D minor Prelude and Fugue and Grechaninov’s Three Pieces among them.

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Iain Quinn plays the organ of Winchester Cathedral, entirely suitable for the repertoire, colourful and clean. The playing, however, is not so successful. Too often dry and unimaginative, it leaves much of the music languishing on the page. The luscious Adagio by Grechaninov is played like a shopping-list, and the most substantial piece of the disc, the 16-minute Fantasy by Glazunov, cries out for a sense of rhapsodic plasticity. Other pieces fare better, notably the more clean-lined textures of the numerous contrapuntal works, among them Taneyev’s wonderful Choral varié. For the collector of rarities there is indeed much of interest, like Shostakovich’s sole contribution to the organ repertoire, two pieces from The Gadfly (though they really present the organ as pastiche). Tsar of instruments the organ may be, but this music, if it aspires to equal nobility, needs more persuasive advocacy. William Whitehead