Glazunov: Symphony No. 3; Ballade in F

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COMPOSERS: Glazunov
LABELS: BIS
WORKS: Symphony No. 3; Ballade in F
PERFORMER: BBC NO of Wales/Tadaaki Otaka
CATALOGUE NO: CD-1358
In the Ballade which launches this disc, a strange meeting ensues between a romantic wanderer wrapped in a Wagnerian cloak and a group of pre-Raphaelite crusaders. It’s the kind of fusion-music at which Glazunov became adept, but in the Third Symphony – composed over a decade before the shorter work – the styles never cohere, however initially beguiling some of the ingredients.

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After launching their Glazunov series with the likeably robust Second, Otaka and his Welsh orchestra flounder, however beautifully, in the mud of the Third’s outer movements, building to nowhere. Hope springs up when a newcomer in shining armour appears, or a soft-centred theme takes on a leonine guise – the more so in the handsome upholstery of this recording – only to be disappointed as the vision quickly fades. Waxwork figures from Tristan, Parsifal, Prince Igor and The Snow Maiden line the route, but only divert for a while. Much the best movement is the scherzo, and this performance of it is almost worth the cost of the disc; the Welsh woodwind break the heart in the winsome Russian-folksong idiom of the trio. With its ever-companionable sheen, this remains a necessary instalment if you’re out to collect a first-rate Glazunov cycle; but selective admirers of the composer should wait for Otaka’s Fourth, Seventh or Eighth. David Nice