The Murmuring Forest – Suite
After the Ball – Suite
Volgograd Philharmonic Orchestra
Edward Serov [Symphony]
Saratov Conservatory Symphony Orchestra
Recorded in Russia – Symphony on 17-20 June 2006 in Volgograd Central Concert Hall, and Suites on 15 January and 13 June 2006 in Great Hall, Saratov Conservatoire
Reviewed by: Colin Anderson
Reviewed: December 2007
CD No: NAXOS 8.570195
Duration: 63 minutes
A previous Naxos release devoted to Boris Tchaikovsky’s music whetted the appetite for more and is now fortuitously delivered with this issue.
Tchaikovsky (1925-96) completed his First Symphony in 1947. It’s a powerful, four-movement piece, wide-ranging in emotions and whimsical in a very diverting manner. It was due its premiere under Mravinsky but was halted by Stalinist machinations and had to wait until 1962 for its unveiling when Kondrashin conducted. This is it’s first recording. The moderately paced first movement opens up a storm of intensity and is followed by a pugnacious and fantastical scherzo. The colour of the second movement gives way to the sparer textures of a fluidly expressive Largo, in which orchestral solos take the burden, not least the haunting tandem of trumpet and violin, the strings en masse demonstrably lamenting and surviving cutting comments from winds and brass – no wonder Shostakovich was so impressed by his younger colleague’s work. The symphony’s finale begins with a clarinet cadenza; a Theme on which numerous Variations follow – further testimony to Boris Tchaikovsky’s powers of invention in a movement that is not short of joviality, characterisation, nimble musicianship and a sense of culmination. Very fine performance and sound.
Boris Tchaikovsky wrote much music for film and radio plays. The two suites on this release are examples of the latter and both date from the early 1950s. The score for The Murmuring Forest (the original novel being by Vladimir Korolenko) was unfortunately lost and only found in 2003 in the archives of Moscow Radio Library. The five short movements each have a sense of the picturesque while remaining musically attractive. The opening of the finale (the most extensive and dramatic movement) could come from Mussorgsky’s “Boris Godunov”.
Boris Tchaikovsky certainly acknowledged his composer forbears. His music for After the Ball (Tolstoy) is reminiscent of his unrelated namesake and the suite as a whole relates Boris’s keen ear for pastiche – and if one tune seems overly dominant, it’s interesting how he varies it to suit a situation. Performances – presumably by an orchestra of students – are spirited and sensitive, the recordings not as clean-cut as achieved in Volgograd, and variable, but still quite acceptable.
Such exposure to Boris Tchaikovsky’s music is proving to be very rewarding.