Glière & Stankovich Ballet Music

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Glière & Stankovich Ballet Music

  • Taras Bulba, The Cossacks rode forth
  • Taras Bulba, Taras awaits his sons
  • Taras Bulba, Andriy
  • Taras Bulba, Ostap
  • Taras Bulba, The Boundless Ukrainian Steppes
  • Taras Bulba, Gopak
  • Taras Bulba, Adagio
  • Taras Bulba, Mazurka di Bravura
  • Taras Bulba, Dance of the Zaporozhian Cossacks
  • Rasputin, Adagio
  • Rasputin, Bath House
  • Rasputin, Interlude
  • Rasputin, Meeting of Iskra and the Poet

I gave Evgeni Stankovich (Yevhen Stankovych as the Ukrainians prefer to spell him) a more than honourable mention in my Gramophone “Collection” on the Symphony in the former Soviet Union (5/96). My positive impression of the two discs I mentioned there is confirmed by the four-movement Suite from his ballet Rasputin. Admittedly, the contorted lyricism and uproarious satire of this hyper-dramatic score will not be to all tastes, and it sits oddly beside the quiet inoffensiveness of the ageing Gliere, but this is unmistakably the music of a man with something urgent to say and a distinctive voice with which to say it. In its original guise, as music for a ballet on the Prometheus story performed in 1986, it was enough to get Stankovych into trouble with the Kiev authorities.
If Stankoiych in the late-1980s recalls the not-yet-fettered Shostakovich of the late-1920s, Gliere’s Taras Bulba looks back from the early-1950s when it was composed all the way to Tchaikovsky. The fifth movement, “The Boundless Ukrainian Steppes”, would make a lovely encore piece for a Russian or Ukrainian concert programme; otherwise this is largely anaemic featureless stuff, maybe calculatedly so at a time when serious composition was all but impossible in the years before Stalin’s death.
The Odessa Philharmonic turn in sterling performances for the American Hobart Earle, who has been their Principal Conductor since 1992. The recording largely succeeds in disguising some thinness of tone.'

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