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Symphony on Two Russian Themes


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1. Largo - Andante - Allegro - Andante - Allegro - Con Spirito
2. I. Allegro
3. II. Larghetto
4. III. Gavotta. Non Troppo Allegro
5. IV. Finale. Molto Vivace
6. I. Introduzione E Allegro, Moderato Assai (Tempo Di Marcia Funebre) - Allegro Brillante
7. II. Alla Tedesca. Allegro Moderato E Semplice
8. III. Andante Elegiaco
9. IV. Scherzo. Allegro Vivo
10. V. Finale. Allegro Con Fuoco (Tempo Di Polacca)

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Amazon.com: 3 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Big, bold and very Russian July 4 2012
By Ralph Moore - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This is a valuable recording of a typically brilliant programme of all-Russian music by a master-conductor who was either brave, oblivious or defiant in presenting such a triumphantly nationalistic programme only four days after Soviet tanks had rolled into Prague. The items here represent a very satisfying balance amongst three archetypal Russian composers, from the father of modern Russian music, Glinka, through its best-known composer, Tchaikovsky, to the most popular symphony of one of its handful of towering 20C figures, Prokofiev.

I am slightly surprised by the tolerance of previous reviewers for the acid stereo sound, which is my reason for deducting one star - but I certainly have no complaints about the music-making here. It is true that for a recorded performance of the Classical Symphony my loyalties ultimately remain with Malko; he provides more delicacy and wit while emanating the same energy as Svetlanov. However, the main attraction here is a scintillating performance of what can be regarded as a Tchaikovsky "problem symphony; Svetlanov solves its tendency towards comfortable homogeneity by taking the music by the scruff of the neck and driving it hard - harder than Markevitch or Fedoseyev, except in the Andante elegiaco, where he takes a similar approach to Markevitch and goes first for the bleakness of the steppes then a hyper-Romantic application of rubato to counteract the briskness of the other movements. It's lush and loaded with bitter-sweet melancholy.

The scrawny stereo really isn't so bad for 1968 and there is very little audience noise in the Usher Hall.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Outstanding collection Oct. 20 2011
By D. R. Schryer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 3, "Polish," is my clear favorite among his first three symphonies. I also like Glinka's seldom-heard Symphony on Two Russian Themes and Stravinsky's delightful Symphony No 1, "Classical Symphony." To have these three outstanding works coupled together on one CD is a rare treat. As usual, Svetlanov excels in conducting Russian music. Lovers of Russian music should grab this outstanding collection while it is still available.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A famous performance of the Tchaikovsky Third lives up to its reputation March 4 2009
By Santa Fe Listener - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This is a riveting BBC concert tape with unusual political overtones. Soviet tanks had rolled into Czechoslovakia to crush the liberal Dubcek regime in the summer of 1968, brutally ending the "Prague spring" that began in January. That same week Svetlanov brought the USSR State Symphony Orchestra on tour to the UK. There were protesters outside Usher Hall in Edinburgh; the summer festival was a prime venue for visiting artists. In this volatile mix Svetlanov found inspiration for a powerful, swaggering (perhaps defiant) performance of the main work here, Tchaikovsky's Sym. #3 "Polish." It was recorded in good FM streo with a close-up perspective, adding even more urgency to a reading that is more fervent than any I've heard from Abbado, Bernstein, Karajan, Dorati, Markevitch, Muti, Beecham, and other Western exponents (I've been on a long search). It outdoes Yuri Temirkanov's RCA account, too, my only other exposure to a Russian interpreter.

In general Svetlanov was a bold, propulsive conductor, prone to overlook niceties in a score -- I've always thought of him as an exemplary "people's artist" in the Soviet machinery -- and the "Polish" benefits from his boldness, because on the surface the first three movements tend to blend into a balletic smoothness and sameness that doesn't hold one's attention. Svetlanov speeds up the tempo to move the line along, and he emphasizes inner voices and accents beyond the usual. The result is invigorating, although I can't side with British commentators on this famous concert who say that the conductor is on fire or that the reading is scorching. The "Polish" can't be entirely transformed from the gentle creature it mostly is. At least its breast is heaving in Svetlannov's ultra-expressive account.

At 73 min., the CD is generously filled out with Glinka's little-heard "Symphony on Two Russian Themes" and Prokofiev's too-often-heard Sym. #1. Both are given strong, energetic performances, in the spirit of the entire concert. All in all, this is one of BBC Legends most valuable Soviet-era releases, of which there are many.


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