Glazunov: Symphony No. 2; Mazurka in G, Op. 18; From Darkness to Light

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WORKS: Symphony No. 2; Mazurka in G, Op. 18; From Darkness to Light
PERFORMER: BBC NO of Wales/Tadaaki Otaka
The earlier and simpler of these two symphonies, the 21-year-old Glazunov’s homage to the leonine and lyrical aspects of Borodin’s art, receives the more compelling performance here. In the introductory cordoning of the orchestral departments, Otaka lets each shine with a bright and natural light; what gentle embroideries there are, like the woodwind’s luminous play around the violins’ alluring treatment of the melody in the slow movement, which make an effortless impact in the superbly engineered recording. The last thing the thicker textures and Wagnerian chromaticism of the Third Symphony need, on the other hand, is the echo-chamber effect that hampers Valeri Polyansky’s evident attempt to keep things on the move. The Russian sound team should forget the lessons of the bad old Melodiya days and be packed off to Wales, or any of Chandos’s own distinguished British venues, to see how it’s done. The same applies to the extras: waltzes that are far too soft-centred on Chandos, while on BIS there’s a chance to contrast Otaka’s gentle, focused dance-spirit in the early Mazurka with the atmospheric handling of the fantasy From Darkness to Light. The bargain-conscious listener should note that the instalment of the admirable Anissimov cycle on Naxos with the Second Symphony also features the masterly Seventh; I await future instalments of Otaka’s Glazunov series with eagerness. David Nice