Arensky/Glazunov

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Arensky/Glazunov
LABELS: Chandos
WORKS: Violin Concerto; Concerto ballata; Piano Concerto
PERFORMER: Alexander Trostiansky (violin), Yegor Dyachkov (cello), Maneli Pirzadeh (piano) Members of the Sherbrooke SO, I Musici de Montréal/Yuli Turovsky
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN 9528
Here’s a bit of intrigue. The failure of Rachmaninov’s First Symphony at its premiere in 1897 is habitually blamed on Glazunov’s ineptitude as a conductor. But, by 1907 Rachmaninov had written his Second Symphony, whose instant and continuing success can be attributed to a pervasive melody of enormous emotional power.

Advertisement

Why, then, did Glazunov incorporate a motif of striking similarity in the first movement of his 1911 Piano Concerto? Glazunov’s tune is paler, less keenly felt, than Rachmaninov’s, but is this a homage, an apology, or merely a coincidence? I found it so perplexing that the wistful variations in the second and final movement of the concerto passed by almost unnoticed. But there’s not a lot to miss. While some of the harmonies have a smudgy, Broadway sensuality, the easy lyricism is frequently banal.

Advertisement

The star of this disc is the Arensky Violin Concerto, which here receives a performance of the most exquisite tenderness. This is a diffident and intimate piece, which belongs more to the realm of chamber than orchestral music. The soloist rejoices in a seamless flow of melody against the most delicate of accompaniments. In the wrong hands, this deceptive simplicity could be lumbering and dull, but Alexander Trostiansky’s sweet tone and the suppleness of I Musici de Montréal make a delicious combination. Christopher Lambton