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This is the final release of the Olympia/Alto Miaskovsky (they spell it 'Myaskovsky')symphony cycle. Alto will, however, be releasing some other orchestral music by Miaskovsky in due course.
Both works were written during the Second World War. The tuneful 23rd Symphony (never released on a single CD before) was the product of Miaskovsky's evacuation to the Northern Caucasus and is based on Caucasian folk-songs although the first two movements (out of three) are still infused with Miaskovsky's characteristic melancholy. The opening of the 23rd Symphony is especially beautiful.
The darkly lyrical 24th Symphony (1943)is a deeply moving score, one of Miaskovsky's finest works dedicated to the memory of a musicologist friend but also probably reflecting the dark times in which it was composed.
Of course Warner have now issued this complete cycle in a boxed set, but that is without proper notes and I prefer the Alto transfers. I am biased as I wrote the notes for the 23rd Symphony in this release, but at bargain price, I have no hesitation in recommending this recording with the strongest enthusiasm. In many ways, this issue would be a great introduction to Miaskovsky's music as the 23rd Symphony is probably the most approachable and Symphony No 24 is one of the most deeply felt.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Two Fabulous Symphonies12 Aug. 2009
David A. Wend
- Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Symphony No. 23 is among my favorite symphonies of any composer, let alone those by Nicolai Myaskovsky. The symphony was composed in 1941 following the invasion of Russia by the Nazis and the evacuation of Myaskovsky. He ended up in the northern Caucasian region. Far from the music being somber as befitted the times, it is radiantly optimistic. It also reflects the composer's research into the local folk melodies. Overall, the music reminded me of Alexander Borodin for its marvelous lyricism. The symphony is in three movements and was influenced by folk melodies.
The work opens with a typical Myaskovsky adagio but quickly moved to a dance-like melody, which is developed and contrasted with another folk melody. The adagio melody returns bringing the movement to a peaceful conclusion. The lyricism of the first movement is continued in the second and is a set of variations based on two ancient Balkarian laments and a love song from Kabardino. The final movement is centers on a lively dance melody. The mood of festive celebrating continues through the movement and it is brought to a joyous conclusion.
The Symphony No. 24 was composed during 1943 and was dedicated to the memory of Vladamir Derzhanovsky, who had died during the evacuation from Moscow in 1942. Another factor in the composition may have been the death of Sergei Rachmaninov, which occurred in March 1943. The 24th is also in three movements. The first movement begins with a brass fanfare and is heroic in tone. The middle movement is somber with passages of chest beating despair. The finale brings back the heroic tone of the first movement. There are several climaxes as the music moved from an introspective melody back to the heroic theme; the music settles down and symphony closed serenely.
Yevgeny Svetlanov conducted the premiere of the 24th in December 1943. The passion and commitment of Maestro Svetlanov is apparent in the two recordings on this disc. The recordings are clear and well-balanced. If you don't know the music of Nicolai Myaskovsky, this is a good place to start; and it certainly belongs in any collection of Russian music.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Extremely rewarding24 July 2011
- Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Alto has dutifully taken up where Olympia left off in their series of Myaskovsky symphonies conducted by Evgeny Svetlanov. 27 in number, Myaskovsky's symphonies constitute what is probably the largest cycle of symphonies to hold a consistently high quality (partially, perhaps, because Myaskovsky, despite the number of symphonies (+ 3 Sinfoniettas), 13 string quartet and 9 piano sonatas, weren't really an excessively prolific composer - there is no music for the stage, for instance, and indeed relatively little music outside of these three cycles). It would be appropriate if someone dared launch a competing complete cycle as well - not that Svetlanov's is anything but thoroughly satisfying, but this is music of (for a large part) such high quality that it would very much sustain alternative approaches. What Alto provides is surely no hackwork, though. In addition to the quality of the performances, the transfers are very fine, and the notes immaculate (surely a selling point in the competition with Warner's set).
Both of the symphonies given here (both composed in 1942) have been recorded before. The twenty-third symphony, which the composer called a "symphonic suite", is songful and atmospheric, wistful but also radiantly beautiful, folk-music inspired, very sincere-sounding but never remotely banal. The first two movements are both full of longing and full of splendid themes, more coherently developed than is sometimes the case with Myaskovsky's symphonies. They are variegated and colorful and the level of inspiration consistently high. The finale is more energetic but in a manner that suggests the Russian Silver Age more than contemporaneous works by, say, Prokofiev or Shostakovich. It is an excellent work, and it is given an exemplary performance - colorful, passionate and glowing, and even the slightly rough edges fail to detract significantly from the overall impression (the brass is particularly magnificent, by the way).
The twenty-fourth symphony is more brazenly heroic in tone, especially in the vigorously energetic, almost violent and immensely powerful first movement. The slow movement, Andante sostenuto, is indeed lamentatious and solemn but does develop into a powerful, defiant climax which suggests optimism and light as well. The last movement is hard-hitting, craggy, passionate and vibrant. It adds up to a splendidly satisfying whole. Indeed, both symphonies on this disc are extremely rewarding in slightly different ways, and they also receive what must be among the best performances in the series thus far. Enthusiastically recommended.