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Gliere: Symphony No. 3 'il'ya Muromets' [Import]

Gliere Audio CD

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Product Description

Product Description

Gliere's most successful orchestral work, the spectacular Symphony No.3, is heard on this recording in its uncut version. Scored for a large orchestra including eight horns, two harps and celesta, it was inspired by the adventures of Il'ya Muromets, the legendary warrior from the Middle Ages of Mother Russia.

Product Description

Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra - JoAnn Falletta, direction

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  12 reviews
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally -- the definitive statement on "Ilya Mourometz" Feb. 25 2014
By Classic Music Lover - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
With the release of this new recording of Reinhold Glière's monumental "Ilya Mourometz" Symphony, do we now have the "definitive" performance of this music?

I think the answer is now 'yes.' We had an early indication of this when JoAnn Falletta and the Buffalo Philharmonic performed this mammoth symphony at a Carnegie Hall concert in May 2013 -- a concert that was broadcast live on public radio.

I remember marveling at the exciting interpretation, along with the precision ensemble of the massed orchestral forces called for by the music.

I consider this symphony to be a prime example of the late flowering of Romanticism in classical music. Composed in 1911, it is a big work (more than 70 minutes in length), telling a big story, with a big orchestra. It is very "Russian," and it is very likely the biggest "statement" made by any Russian symphony.

The musical language isn't revolutionary in the slightest. There are interesting hints of other composers' influences in the score. For example, passages in the second movement sound like Scriabin (his 2nd and 3rd symphonies). And Borodin seems to be hovering around nearby - particularly in the first and third movements. But in its grandeur and sweep, this symphony really has no equal in Russian music - and certainly didn't at the time of its composition in 1911.

Another interesting aspect about this symphony is that the composer didn't compose anything on this scale before or after. I love a number of other Glière scores, especially when performed by leading artists. (Dame Joan Sutherland singing the Concerto for Coloratura Soprano & Orchestra or Ossian Ellis playing the Harp Concerto are good cases in point.) But nothing else in Glière's output comes even close to this piece, despite the fact that he continued composing for another 35+ years.

I have heard quite a few recordings of the "Ilya Mourometz" Symphony - including older recordings: Leopold Stokowski (with Philadelphia and Houston), Eugene Ormandy (also Philadelphia), Hermann Scherchen (with the Vienna State Opera Orchestra), Jacques Rachmilovich (with the Santa Cecilia Orchestra) ... and other ones with Natan Rakhlin, Donald Johanos, Edward Downes, Yoav Talmi and Leon Botstein. A word of caution: Most of the earlier performances are brutally cut -- likely done so the symphony could be presented on a single LP.

To my knowledge, the first recording of the complete score was Hermann Scherchen's from the early 1950s, which I've always loved but which suffers from the orchestra sounding rough-hewn in places (plus, it's not in stereo).

One recording I haven't heard is Harold Farberman's with the Royal Philharmonic, clocking in at around 90 minutes which would seem to be way over-indulgent -- even for this piece of music.

JoAnn Falletta and the Buffalo Philharmonic perform every note of the score, and their interpretation is perfectly timed - neither rushed nor too lethargic. Moods range from contemplative and brooding ... to stormy ... to utterly magical -- the second movement is particularly scintillating, and even ethereal in places. And the brief third movement, portraying a feast at the castle, is thrilling with its Rimsky-like orchestration portraying the festive atmosphere.

In the first and last movements, the Buffalo brass players really come forth with great drama and fury - going right to the edge but not going off the rails. It's really powerful stuff, and the precision ensemble work is everything one could hope it to be. I don't hear a single cracked horn note or any other "wrong note distractions." (The notoriously difficult passages for strings in the second movement are also navigated beautifully.)

For such a gargantuan composition, one would think it would end with a bang (think Mahler or Bruckner, or even Schönberg's "Gurre-Lieder"). But that is not the case here: This symphony begins and ends in the depths -- the ending truly a whimper as "all the heroes were now gone from Russia." But the catharsis is there, just as surely as it is at the end of a Bruckner or Mahler symphony. That's the beauty of JoAnn Falletta's interpretation, which delivers this resolution better than on any other recording I've heard.

On balance, I believe that this is now the best recording available of this symphony. It has the grit and power of Scherchen, but the playing is far more polished. JoAnn Falletta has figured out the key for getting past Glière's more rhetorical passages and creating a highly satisfying emotional "arc" for the musical narrative - and in this regard she is more successful than the Johanos, Rakhlin, Downes or Botstein recordings. (The performances by Rachmilovich, Ormandy, Stokowski and Talmi are out of the running because of the often-deep cuts made to the score.)

Finally, the quality of the recorded sound is exceptional, aided by the bright-but-natural acoustics of the Buffalo Philharmonic's concert hall which the NAXOS engineers have captured faithfully.

In sum, I give this recording the highest recommendation. While many of the alternative ones have their strong points, if you were to own just one recording of "Ilya Mourometz," this one's it. And at NAXOS's affordable mid-line price, it's a bargain to boot.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worthy of a Grammy Nomination Feb. 27 2014
By Catager - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
While I may be a neophyte to classical music I do know this recording of Gliere's Symphony No. 3 is truly special. I was also fortunate to see the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra perform this live at Carnegie Hall in spring 2013 and could not wait for them to record this piece. The time passes quickly for a piece that is in excess of an hour. The ending is not the usual fanfare of most pieces but goes out with a softness which maybe endears me to this symphony even more. JoAnn Falletta and the BPO are probably the most underrated orchestra in America.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An epic journey March 13 2014
By Digital Chips - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Gliere's sprawling symphony takes the listener on an epic sonic odyssey. From the somber opening bars that foreshadow the arrival of the heroic Il'ya Muromets, to the closing chords where Muromets and his brave Bogatyrs knights are defeated and turned to stone, Giere weaves a tightly-constructed narrative that's both coherent and immersive.

The first recording of this work was with Stokowski, who (with Gliere's permission) trimmed the work down from 70+ minutes to a svelte 38 minutes. Although it's a thrilling performance (it is Stoki, after all), it didn't do the work justice. Because Gliere's third symphony has no filler -- every note is there for a reason, and every note helps further the story.

Others have recorded the complete version of this work, but somehow failed to completely communicate overarching dramatic motion of the music. There are plenty of beautifully written sections that its tempting the linger over, but just as with the organic music of Wagner and Mahler, they're most effective in context.

And JoAnn Falletta understands that context. Her performance with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra is one that delivered new pleasures every time I listened to it. The story for this programmatic work is quite detailed -- but you really don't need to follow it with this recording. Falletta and the BPO effectively paint each scene completely.

The release is beautifully recorded, allowing the listener to hear Gliere's subtle orchestrations. A joy to listen to from start to finish.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gliere shuffalos to Buffalo April 18 2014
By B. Guerrero - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
There's little that I can add to the reviews already posted here. Since I used to see to JoAnn Falletta conduct the San Francisco Women's Philharmonic clear back in the 1980's, it doesn't surprise me in the least that she brings a tremendous amount of energy and dedication to Gliere's unruly behemoth of a symphony. Make no mistake, this is a five star performance of what is really a four star work. But what is truly ear-opening here, is just what an outstanding job the Buffallo Philharmonic does in sustaining the tension across the full 80 minutes - never does their concentration lag.

While dubbed a symphony, Gliere's third is more a programmatic work than a symphony in any traditional sense. As a Mahler enthusiast, perhaps that's what attracts me most to the work. But this is also a piece that can feel like 80 minutes of sameness. That's why slower performances simply don't work, regardless of what the composer's initial tempo thoughts might have been. In other words, too much of a good thing can, indeed, be just that: too much. Falletta's faster tempi, combined with stellar orchestral execution, elevates "Ilya Muromets" to a plain that it is simply hasn't enjoyed prior to now. Little more needs to be said in terms of the performance. What does the piece sound like? . . .

For Gliere's third, think of a cross between Borodin on the one hand, and the highly chromatic (half-step harmonies) and over heated, late romantic idiom of Scriabin, Szymanowki and Suk on the other hand. His music is generally more 'tuneful' in a typically Russian way than the latter three composers. But the elongated harmonic progressions and loose structure better resemble those three than Borodin or Rimsky-Korsakov. I'm not sure that anything else by Gliere sounds anything like this; certainly not the horn concerto. It isn't a truly 'great' work, but it is interesting and unusual enough not to deserve neglect as well. Give it a spin - you might disagree and think that it's an awesome symphony.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Good or even better May 18 2014
By Terrence W. Faulkner - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
I have been very fond of this symphony since hearing the truncated 1940 recording by Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra. I believe that I have heard all of the commercially recorded versions as well as several off the air recordings of live performances including three subsequent Stokowski performances (less impassioned than his 1940 effort). The Falleta recording is very close to being as good as that 1940 version but has the additional advantage of being complete and, of course, it has excellent modern sound. So, I regard it as the best of all.

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