Myaskovsky: Symphonic Works, Vol. 12: Symphonies Nos 16 & 19

COMPOSERS: Myaskovsky
LABELS: Alto
ALBUM TITLE: Myaskovsky
WORKS: Symphonic Works, Vol. 12: Symphonies Nos 16 & 19
PERFORMER: Russian Federation Academic SO/Evgeny Svetlanov
CATALOGUE NO: ALC 1022
Weighed down by the obligation to conform to the principles of Socialist Realism, Myaskovsky tried to appease the Soviet authorities during the 1930s by writing symphonies that were optimistic and accessible. The energetic outer movements of the 16th Symphony certainly tick all the right boxes, especially the upbeat Finale whose main thematic idea is drawn from one of the composer’s most popular songs. Yet I suspect that the preceding ‘Funeral March’, which was composed in response to the tragic crash of the Maxim Gorky aeroplane in 1935, is more attuned to the composer’s naturally introverted and melancholic nature. The 19th Symphony for wind band is an occasional piece written in celebration of the 21st anniversary of the foundation of the Red Army. Although the scoring is undeniably effective, the folk-inflected thematic material seems far less distinctive than in the earlier work. Still, collectors of Svetlanov’s Myaskovsky will undoubtedly welcome this twelfth volume of the series with open arms. As in some earlier releases, orchestral ensemble is not always pristine in the 16th. On the other hand the playing in the 19th, recorded as long ago as 1970 is very fluent indeed.

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