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Glière - Symphony No 1; The Sirens [CD]

Reinhold Glière , Stephen Gunzenhauser , Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra Audio CD
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Glière - Symphony No 1; The Sirens + Gliere: Symphony, No. 2, The Zaporozhy Cossacks + Glière - Symphony No 3
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Product details

  • Orchestra: Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Conductor: Stephen Gunzenhauser
  • Composer: Reinhold Glière
  • Audio CD (13 April 1995)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Naxos
  • ASIN: B000001405
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 246,737 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.

Song Title Time Price
Listen  1. Symphony No. 1 in E flat major, Op. 8: I. Andate - Allegro13:36Album Only
Listen  2. Symphony No. 1 in E flat major, Op. 8: II. vivace 6:33£0.69  Buy MP3 
Listen  3. Symphony No. 1 in E flat major, Op. 8: III. Andante 7:51£0.69  Buy MP3 
Listen  4. Symphony No. 1 in E flat major, Op. 8: IV. Allegro 7:10£0.69  Buy MP3 
Listen  5. The Sirens, Op. 3313:34Album Only

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format:Audio CD
These are old recordings now, having originally been set down in 1985 and issued on the Marco Polo label, first on vinyl and then on CD. The sound quality of some Marco Polo recordings was more than a little variable, but I'm happy to say that this disc stands up pretty well after two and a half decades.

The symphony dates from 1899-1900, while Gliere was still a student at the Moscow Musical Conservatory. The notes don't state whether its composition was part of his studies (his graduation piece was apparently an opera after Byron) but it has all the trademarks of a work by a Russian conservatory trained graduate: the twin influences of Glazunov and Tchaikovsky, occasional nods towards the Russian nationalist composers, technical polish and not a jot of originality.

It's still an attractive and fluent work, though. After a slow introduction, the primary subject of the sonata form opening movement is insistently memorable and charming - it might be too long and self-contained for development in the traditional manner of German symphonism, but Gliere puts it through its paces effectively. "Effective" pretty much sums up this amiable work as a whole really - for passing a pleasant half an hour or so with little demand on your intellect, you won't go far wrong with this piece and you may well come away humming the melodies to yourself for a while afterwards.

The coupling is a rarely heard tone poem that is exquisitely orchestrated; happily, as the vivid but delicate scoring is the piece's real strength, the recording catches every detail admirably. Orchestration aside, it is quite an ordinary piece, with its naïvely executed programme and rather anonymous melodic writing.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable music 5 Dec 2009
By Hayward H. Siegel - Published on
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
Symphony No. 1 is in 4 movements and is well orchestrated. It is like the symphonies of the European Romantics of the late 19th and early 20th centuries in form, but totally Russian in sound. Gliere was influenced by the music of the people of Russia and the other nations of the former Soviet bloc. The 4 movements are primarily variations on, and the development of, themes based on the music of these nations. There are several beautiful melodies throughout this Symphony. It is a joy to hear. The Sirens is a mysterious and dreamlike sounding tone poem, which depicts the mythological enchantresses who lured sailors to their demise. It too is well orchestrated, and the dreamlike effect is enhanced by the use of the harp, celesta, triangle and glockenspiel. You can hear the rippling of water throughout this composition. It closes solemnly, picturing the doom of the sailors.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ilya Mourometz's Little Brother 28 Oct 2000
By Thomas F. Bertonneau - Published on
Format:Audio CD
First symphonies tend to be penned by young men just out of the conservatory and usually show the signs of their derivation. Rachmaninov's Tschaikovskian First Symphony originated as a conservatory exercise; and Glazunov, who led the disastrous premèire of the Rachmaninov, himself delivered a first symphony while still in his teens, owing a debt to Borodin and Balakirev. Reinhold Glière's (1875-1956) First Symphony in E-Flat Major (1899-1900) indeed began life while its composer still counted himself a student at the Kiev Conservatory, where he studied with Ippolitov-Ivanov. As in the case of Rachmaninov, Tschiakovsky figures as the major influence, although contrary to what the notes to this Naxos CD say, the Russian nationalists also make their presence felt in Glière's abundance of Slavic melodies. The First definitely foreshadows the great Third Symphony, "Ilya Mourometz," in its mining of Slavic lore: The opening Andante of the First Movement, for example, sounds like it might be derived from Znammeny Chant; the ensuing Allegro is lively and heroic - you can picture the Bogatyrs riding across the steppe. (The key, E-Flat, is the typically heroic key, as in Beethoven's "Eroica" or Strauss's "Ein Heldenleben.") The succeeding three movements are all about half the length of the fourteen-minute First Movement. Glière gives us a Balakirevesque scherzo, a song-like Andante, which returns in mood to the opening of the First Movement, and a final Allegro, once again Balakirevesque. Stephen Gunzenhauser and the Slovak Philharmonic play the symphony for all that it is worth, which is plenty. The later tone-poem "The Sirens" (1908) is less memorable than the symphony. This program came out originally on a Marco Polo LP, then reappeared as a Marco Polo CD. The Naxos reincarnation makes sense. Cognoescenti of "Ilya Mourometz" will want to know its two "little brothers" among Glière's symphonies. Start with this one.
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pleasant, but nothing extraordinary 7 Mar 2007
By Slovakophile - Published on
Format:Audio CD
The first of Gliere's three symphonies is pleasant but not very memorable. Like most early works of other composers, Gliere's Symphony No. 1 shows the influence of his predecessors/mentors (in this case Tchaikovsky and Ippolitov-Ivanov). Nevertheless. listening to Symphony No. 1 can provide an interesting contrast to the monumental Symphony No. 3 ("Il'ya Murometz"). The intriguing symphonic poem "The Sirens" is a bit of a "make-weight" on this CD (the CD's total time is just less than 50 minutes) that evokes the sea and the allure of the sirens who are beneath the waves.

The Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra and Stephen Gunzenhauser give these pieces a good go and hardly diminish the qualities of the music.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly fine music in more than decent performances 14 Sep 2009
By G.D. - Published on
Format:Audio CD
Reinhold Glière (1875-1956) retains a toehold in the repertoire through his remarkable third symphony (and perhaps the effective and tuneful ballet the Red Poppy). His music is generally colorful, evocative, well-written and not without depth. Stylistically, the Russian Silver Age looms large - this is music in the tradition of Rimsky-Korsakov and Glazunov with few elements of anything more modern - but for the most part the most interesting music stems from rather early in the career, with his later more socialist-realist works being undeniable often rather bland.

The first symphony was composed in 1900, and is a generally sunny and untroubled affair - genuinely amiable, in fact, with memorable themes and spirit, superbly orchestrated and never too ambitious for the material to sustain Glière's treatment of it. Indeed, everything in the symphony seems to flow seamlessly from one good idea to another. I am not in any way going to claim that it is a masterpiece (it is hence not at the level of inspiration of his third), but it is a very fine work that really deserves to be heard. The first movement opens with a slightly wayward andante that launches a very engaging, sunny and well-written allegro. The second is an enjoyable scherzo (Glazunov-style), the lyrical slow movement is evocative and beautiful whereas the finale is well paced and builds up to a very satisfying conclusion.

Still, the main find on this disc is the symphonic poem Sirens from 1908. Fabulously score and utterly magical in thematic material and orchestral textures, this is a superb work that really deserves to be heard far more often. As for the performances, they are generally very well judged and nicely shaped - Gunzenhauser is admirably able to shape arguments and pace climaxes. The playing is not perfect, however, sounding sometimes rough around the edges and lacking in tonal warmth. Still, these are in no way bad performances (I have not heard any alternative performances of either work so I cannot compare). The playing time might perhaps come across as a little stingy, but in the end, this is a beautiful disc that deserves a firm recommendation.
3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars R. M. Glier and the Force of Circumstance... 13 Jun 2009
By B.E.F. - Published on
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
R. M. Glier and the Force of Circumstance...
Arensky (d. 1906)
Balakirev (d. 1910)
Kalinnikov (d. 1901)
Rimsky-Korsakov (d. 1908)
Skryabin (d. 1915)
Taneyev (d. 1915)

"Who's killing the great composers of Russia?" an headline may well have queried, for within the span of little more than a decade perished nearly all the great composers of Russia.

Three Russian greats had died in the last quarter of the 19th Century: Borodin (d. 1887); Rubinstein (d. 1894); Tchaikovsky (d. 1893).

Three great contemporaries remained: Glazunov (b. 1865); Glier (b. 1875); Rachmaninov (b. 1873).

(While the younger generation of Russian Modernists [Myaskovsky, Prokofiev, Shostakovich] was maturing, Stravinsky went his own way, and Rachmaninov pursued an international career as pianist/composer/conductor.)

This left the two "great `Gs'" prominent on the Russian musical scene c.1920: Glazunov in St. Petersburg, and Glier at Moskva.

Glazunov (d. 1936) eventually ended in Paris--("In Paris! I fear that hardly points to any very serious state of mind at the last")--so impoverished he couldn't even purchase music paper.

Which brings us to the circumstantial case of R. M. Glier.
Reyngol'd Moritsevich Glier (Reinhold Moritsévitch Glière) was the Ukrainian-born son of a Belgian emigrant.
Glier studied Belle Époque art-music in Moskva (1894-1900) and Berlin (1905-07) with the violin as his primary instrument. (His Russian instructors included Taneyev, Arensky, Ippolitov-Ivanov; while his chief German associate was Mahler's friend, Oskar Fried.)
From here it must be markedly noted: the dramatic difference between Tsarist pre-war Russia (prior to 1915) and Revolutionary Soviet Russia (after 1917).

With these data in consideration, it is highly significant that by 1914 Glier was director of the Kyyiv Conservatory, and from 1920 he was head of the composition department of the Moskva Conservatoire: in other words, Glier was favoured with distinguished musical appointments under BOTH the Tsarist and Soviet regimes: adroit manoeuvring, indeed!

Eastern European history is not a forte of Anglo-American mytho-historiographers and so it may be a revelation to apprehend the appalling fact that in the dark last days of the First World War, when Russia literally fell out of the war on the Armistice of Brest-Litovsk (Dec. 1917), Germany occupied an huge swath of Eastern Europe which included Finland (30th longitudinal meridian east), the Baltic states, Belarus, Ukraine, the Black Sea, Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan (50th longitudinal meridian east): this was the radical socio-political-economic cataclysm which fostered the Tsar's overthrow and the Bolsheviks' rise.

By 1918 the Bolsheviks (led by Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, and Molotov) had established Moskva as the state's capital, and in the following years Russia saw internal revolutionary civil wars, foreign intervention, bloodshed, and chaos.
Against all contenders, the Bolsheviks developed a managerial apparatus of The Party (with a Central Committee, a Politburo, and a Secretariat) which directed The State government via a Council of ministers with Lenin as Premier.
The stress of chaos combined with the autocratic politics of Russia resulted in an authoritarian bureaucratic dictatorship which (by 1923) Stalin captured and held in an iron grip for the next thirty years wherein all were surveilled and all opposition liquidated.

And so, from the civilized quietude of pre-war Central and Eastern Europe, to the bloody chaos of the revolutionary Stalinist Soviet-Russian empire, moves Glier to the very seat of power and fear--Moskva, 1920.
Point I: Glier was a genuinely skilled and talented artist. He was an artist: on this point there is no question. "Glier had matured in the 19th Century, and his oeuvre is firmly rooted in the great Russian music of the past. A proud successor to Glinka, Tchaikovsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, and Borodin, he was also a faithful disciple of Taneyev and Arensky, and a worthy peer to Rachmaninov and Glazunov. His high musical culture and compositional technique were superb."
As a violinist Glier himself performed in a string quartet ensemble whereby he gained "hands-on" experience of texture, voicing, and instrumentation.
Glier composed two String Octets; three String Sextets; four String Quartets; and three fine Symphonies.
He also wrote much successful music for the stage.

(It should be noted that in Stalinist Russia [as in Maoist China] theatrical entertainments [ballet and light opera] were important modes of political expression.
Moreover, Glier inherited the tradition of [amongst others] the great artist, humanitarian, philosopher, and visionary Count L. N. Tolstoy [d. 1910] who advocated the use of didactic art in the furtherance of social justice.)

Point II: Glier was as much a pawn of his own inescapable space-time as are we all. People have to deal with their circumstances, making the most of opportunities while deciding their own personal ethics about what means they will use. Frequently people are unable to escape their circumstances or change their situations in a dramatically radical (positive) way: commonly they have to accept the reality of their circumstances and manage their situations as best they can, either making do or doing without.

And so Glier in 1920s Soviet Russia had two choices: 1) accept the reality of his situation and try to build a career working in his artistic field by teaching and composing--and thereby care for the people in his closest relationships; or, 2) flee alone into a post-war devastated Western Europe wracked by economic depression and ravaged by deadly pestilence (Spanish Influenza).
The second choice was really no option at all, for he would have needed a visa for France, England, or USA--a visa which probably none would have issued; moreover, Glier was an academician not a concertizing virtuoso; furthermore, he likely had little money and a wife with children whom he was loath to abandon.
Faced with these realities, Glier sensibly chose to stay in his native country, work as well he could, and care for his loved ones.

Point III: A critic carps, "Glier was a committed communist who served the Stalinist dictatorship--in contrast to his colleagues persecuted at home or who emigrated."
This seems a spurious type of Anglo-American influenced hyper-capitalistic critique, for it doesn't take into account the fact that "persecution at home" usually meant death, and emigration was simply not feasible.
(Stravinsky and Rachmaninov got out early and made contacts in the West; Prokofiev and Shostakovich did suffer a bit for their Modernistic style, while Khachaturian and Myaskovsky indeed served the regime. [The latter were of course a generation younger than Glier.])

Glier must have conducted himself with the utmost caution and probity, stepping on a very razor's edge at every turn!

But who knows what was in Glier's heart?

Superficially he was "committed" enough to manage a successful teaching career, produce works of genuine art, and fellowship with his native peoples.
It sounds like hyper-capitalistic sour grapes to say that as a result of his hard work Glier "was greeted with enthusiasm all over the Soviet Union."
The fact that Glier became President of the Union of Soviet Composers and received numerous state awards including "Artist of the Soviet People" certainly means that he had the approval of Stalin and the Politburo.
(It is reported that Stalin had a tenor voice with perfect pitch good enough to have become a professional singer; and he seems to have favoured the music of Glinka and Mozart.)

Putting aside Glier's establishment functions, cultural enthusiasts may profit more by focusing rather on his fine art.
Glier's esthetic is very in the lyrical vein of Borodin and Korsakov.
The Symphony No. 1 (1900) is beauteously scored with wonderful combinations of winds, strings, and timpani.
The harmonies are Central European Romantic, while the melodies and rhythms are unmistakably Eastern in flavour and texture.
Glier is always original while inflecting distinctive Borodinian-Korsakovian turns of phrase: withal, the sum of Glier's art is imminently ebullient, pleasing and powerful with an unction of assurance.
"His masterworks are imbued with profound feeling and captivating melodies."
The evocative tone poem Sirens (1908) is surely a trial run for Glier's successful ballet scores: its Jugendstil style is the synesthetic correspondent to Klimt's contemporaneous Gold Fish and Water Serpents.
[Postscriptus on Glazunov:
Glazunov had been involved with the original "Mighty Little Clutch." (He was especially close to Borodin, Balakirev, and Korsakov.) Glazunov was appointed (under the Tsar) Director of the St. Petersburg Conservatory (in 1905)--an appointment he held for more than twenty years. The physical distance of St. Petersburg from Moskva may have given Glazunov more freedom of manoeuvre than Glier enjoyed; too, Glazunov probably regretted the Tsar's passing and the rise of the new State. In any case he seems to have been an older type of Russian personality and he was a documented tippler. Apparently he was unskilled or unwilling to negotiate the new order and things eventually got too hot for him. Finally (aged 63) he virtually fled Russia via Vienna on the pretence of attending Schubert's Centenary celebration (1928). Glazunov ended (like Oscar Wilde) a gravely impoverished wreck in Paris (d. 1936).]
Glière: Symphony No. 2, Op. 25; The Zaporozhy Cossacks, Op. 64
Gliere: Symphony 3
Gliere: Octet, Op. 5; Sextet, Op. 11
Kalinnikov: Symphony No. 1; Glinka: Dances from "Ruslan & Lyudmila"
Rimsky-Korsakov: The Complete Symphonies; Russian Easter Festival Overture; Capriccio Espagnol [Germany]
Scriabin: Piano Music
Arensky: String Quartets Nos. 1 & 2; Piano Quintet
Balakirev and Mussorgsky: Piano Music
Glazunov: String Quartets 3 & 5 Vol. 1
Taneyev: Chamber Music
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