Describing music with words is always difficult because they are two discrete languages but, in the case of Glazunov, it is particularly hard. With his symphonies he is one of the least Russian sounding of Russian composers. Quite something, given his pivotal place in Russian music from the late 19th Century to well into the 20th Century. If anything, he probably sits somewhere between Dvorak and Brahms on one side and Vaughn Williams and Elgar on the other. The latter two English composers, who you can't help but feel he had considerable influence on, wrote symphonies that were as far removed from, say, 'Enigma Variations','Pomp And Circumstance Marches' and the 'English Folk Song Suite', as Glazunov's symphonies are from his best known works - 'The Seasons' and 'Scenes de Ballet'.
These symphonies are expansive works - very Brahmsian in that respect- and, apart from the first, possibly the most accessible, which, composed at the age of just seventeen, is quite derivative of Dvorak, in my view, have a very pastoral, mellow, almost brooding feel but, bar the eighth, which has a more sombre tone, are generally bright sunlit-edged clouds of contemplation. Listening to them you could easily imagine yourself in the Fen country or soaring above this green and pleasant land, this blessed plot, this sceptred isle...you get the picture. I have listened to these symphonies for quite some time and have to say that it's only after a few listens that they start to bear fruit. They certainly grow on you...but then this is 'War And Peace' music, not 'Baba Yaga'.
Packed in a neat box, with a very informative booklet, these seven discs are yet another rewarding bargain from Brilliant Classics.