Leningrad Symphonies

Author: 
Richard Whitehouse
NFPMA99133. Leningrad SymphoniesLeningrad Symphonies

Leningrad Symphonies

  • Symphony No 3
  • Light Symphony
  • Symphony No 4

They may have been plundered after the USSR’s demise but Soviet radio archives continue to yield gems such as these three pieces. Most substantial is the Third Symphony (1967) by Orest Yevlakhov (1912 73), a powerful and cohesive statement by one whose witnessing of the siege of Leningrad permeates his output. A brooding prelude introduces ideas to be elaborated in a tensile Allegro then a wistful Intermezzo, the work reaching its climax in a fourth movement of imposing rhetoric and contrapuntal energy, before a closing Andante of fraught eloquence.

Hardly better known in the West, Sergey Slonimsky (b1932; nephew of the famous lexicographer) is fast approaching 90, with a substantial catalogue including 34 symphonies. His Fourth (1982) is notable for its formal freedom, the briefest of Allegros setting out themes duly explored in a plangent Andante (its woodwind solos often redolent of Vaughan Williams), then a driving Allegro whose impetus carries over the finale – an extended funeral march almost as long as those earlier movements combined, with the main theme transformed into a baleful chorale.

A measure of light relief comes in the Light Symphony (1971) by Yuri Falik (b1936), whose stylistic versatility is well demonstrated in its three movements – breezily animated Allegros framing an Andantino whose insinuating elegance conceals a searching pathos. Performances by the (then) Leningrad Philharmonic lack nothing in commitment or responsiveness, as directed by three distinguished Soviet conductors, with the live or broadcast sound more than acceptable. Informatively annotated, this is among the most significant releases yet in a valuable series.

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