WORKS: Symphony No. 15 in D minor, Op. 38; Symphony No. 27 in C minor, Op. 85
PERFORMER: Russian Federation Academic SO/Evgeny Svetlanov
CATALOGUE NO: ALC 1021
Avid collectors of Svetlanov’s Myaskovsky must have given up hope of ever hearing the remaining issues in his complete recordings of the symphonies after the series had to be abandoned owing to the sad demise of the Olympia record label a few years ago.
Thankfully Alto have now stepped into the breach with Volume 11 and the enticing promise of following this up with the other three discs in the not-too-distant future. The two symphonies featured here emanate from particularly problematic periods in the composer’s life.
While the lyrical 27th represents a desperately sad response to totally unjustified Stalinist condemnation, the more neglected 15th reflects Myaskovsky’s sincere attempt to forge a symphonic style that was commensurate with the recently evolved doctrines of Socialist Realism.
The solution was to inject an element of folk influence into the melodic material without sacrificing the composer’s characteristically piquant harmonies – a strategy that pays dividends in the slow movement, effectively a set of variations on a Russian cradle song.
But as always with this composer darker elements are never far from the surface, the shadowy third movement waltz providing an uncanny anticipation of the middle of Rachmaninov’s Symphonic Dances.
Aided and sometimes abetted by a rather boomy recording, Evgeny Svetlanov injects a great deal of passion into both performances, though his orchestra seem far less assured in negotiating the tricky passage work of the Fifteenth than in the whirlwind Finale of the 27th. Erik Levi