The 8th symphony, written in 1956, is a solid work, well-written and with good tunes, sounding perhaps a little bit Slavic, a little bit Scandinavian. But it is the 20th symphony that sets this CD apart. Written in 1981, it is the last symphony that Ivanovs completed. It is much more introverted and personal than the earlier work and in that regard is reminiscent of late Shostakovich, or of Malcolm Arnold. The outer movements are dark and powerful, the third movement gentle but eerie. The second movement, "adagio," is simply heartbreaking. The performances are beautiful. And the price!
Incidentally, the liner notes give a superficial overview of Ivanovs' career, but neglect to mention, for example, any unpleasantness that might have occurred in Latvia in, say, 1940... Are we left to draw what conclusions we can from the tragic nature of the music itself?