Glazunov The Seasons; Tchaikovsky Serenade for Strings
Zagreb Philharmonic/Dmitri Kitayenko
Oehms Classics OC 1889 75:04 mins
With its deft orchestration and sumptuous melodies, Glazunov’s The Seasons appears a natural successor to Tchaikovsky’s three great ballet scores. Indeed, the irresistibly charming ‘Waltz of the Blueberries and Poppies’ from the third tableau ‘Summer’ could easily have been written by the composer of The Nutcracker. The strength of this beautifully recorded performance from the Zagreb Philharmonic under Dmitri Kitayenko lies in their lyrical approach to the score. From the opening bars, with their mysterious sequence of chords spread among different sections of the orchestra, Kitayenko projects Glazunov’s full-blooded textures with warmth, atmosphere and great subtlety. At the same time, his propensity for adopting broad tempos, even in the more animated numbers, reduces the dynamic impact of some sections in the score. For instance, the famous Presto Bacchanale from ‘Autumn’ here sounds far too laid-back given the exuberant nature of the music.
In Tchaikovsky’s Serenade Kitayenko similarly opts for an expansive approach. The sheer richness of the composer’s string writing certainly comes to the fore in the wonderfully sonorous account of the slow introduction to the first movement. But the ensuing Allegro moderato and the Finale could have benefited from even greater rhythmic incisiveness and forward momentum.