Glière Orchestral Works

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Glière Orchestral Works

  • Symphony No. 1
  • (The) Red Poppy

Back in September 1986 (can it really be that long ago?) I described Gliere's First Symphony as ''no better or worse than one might expect of a gifted, well-taught 25-year-old Russian in 1900''. That still seems to me fair enough—the first movement works its Borodin-derived material to death, the 5/4 scherzo is more than a touch mechanical, and good, clean fun is about the most the finale aspires to. But it can certainly be said that the BBC Philharmonic far surpass their Czech counterparts, and Chandos's recording is far richer and more spacious than Marco Polo's. Anyone who has invested in the Second and Third Symphonies in this cycle (which really are worth hearing) will want to add the First, if only to see where Gliere's musical roots were.
The Red Poppy was the Soviet Union's first 'successful' ballet (it appeared in 1927), and if its material now sounds rather 'by the yard' it does at least include the splendidly uninhibited Russian Sailors' Dance, based on the famous ''Little Apple'' folksong, as a crowd-pleasing finale. It also has a few unexpected reminders of the Wagner-cum-Rachmaninov style Gliere more or less had to abandon after the Revolution. The Suite is a different selection from the 'fragments' presented on an Olympia CD (7/89)—all the more reason to put this disc on the shopping-list.'

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