LYATOSHYNSKY Symphony No 3, ‘Peace Shall Defeat War’
Boris Lyatoshynsky (1895-1968) was a slightly older Ukrainian contemporary of Shostakovich, a pupil of Glière. His work was initially very much influenced by Russian late Romanticism but he came increasingly to employ Ukrainian folk song in his music. While his output is not exactly unknown (there are, for example, three other recordings of this symphony to my knowledge, two Ukrainian and one Russian, under Mravinsky), it has also not had the success of Shostakovich with Western audiences. This excellent recording may do something to change that.
The Third Symphony, written in 1951, bears a subtitle, Peace Shall Defeat War, and is dedicated to the 25th anniversary of the October Revolution. The music is in consequence frequently bellicose in character but Lyatoshynsky has a very personal lyrical vein which is quite different from that of his more famous contemporary: while one can make parallels with Shostakovich in the combative first movement, the glistening opening of the second is something quite different and original. Karabits and his Bournemouth players really bring out the detail of Lyatoshynsky’s imaginative orchestration, and what might seem in other hands a somewhat sprawling work is here given a carefully shaped rendition of great intensity; the final minutes, in which the Ukrainian folk song first heard in the opening movement is brought resoundingly back amid brass and bells, represent a genuinely heartfelt victory. Andrew Burn, in his excellent booklet notes, explains that this is the original version of the finale, the work having for many years been performed with a revised version more congenial to the Soviet authorities.
Grazhyna is a tone poem, written four years after the Third Symphony for the centenary of the death of Adam Mickiewicz, and it takes the writer’s narrative poem ‘Grazhyna’ as its basis. The music is much more romantic in tone than the symphony but that is to be expected given the nature of Mickiewicz’s tale of doomed love – it is very pictorial music indeed. The players of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra react to it with vigour and dedication, and their performances benefit from outstanding engineering. More Lyatoshynsky, please!