Roslavets: Chamber Symphony; In the Hour of the New Moon

COMPOSERS: Roslavets
LABELS: Hyperion
ALBUM TITLE: Roslavets
WORKS: Chamber Symphony; In the Hour of the New Moon
PERFORMER: Elizabeth Layton (violin); BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra/Ilan Volkov
CATALOGUE NO: CDA 67484
Since the demise of the Soviet Union, some of the radical modernist composers that were suppressed by Stalinism seem to be enjoying a strong revival of interest. Chief amongst these is Nikolai Roslavets(1881-1944). This latest offering from Hyperion is particularly welcome since it presents the world premiere recording of his Chamber Symphony – a hitherto unknown work written in the mid 1930s following his fall from grace.

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It’s a huge and densely contrapuntal work, indebted in places to Schoenberg’s own contribution to the genre. At times overstaying its welcome, particularly in the 20-minute slow movement, it is nonetheless full of distinctive thematic invention. Ilan Volkov band members of the BBC Scottish Symphony deliver an assured performance, and the dry studio ambience brings clarity to the musical argument.

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In the Hours of the New Moon is a remarkable and luxuriously scored symphonic poem dating from 1910. Strongly influenced by late Scriabin and showing some stylistic affinities with Stravinsky and Debussy, it is powerfully projected by the present performers and makes one eager to hear more orchestral works by this fascinating figure. Erik Levi