C0197. EVGENI SVETLANOV Cond. Russian Federation State Symphony Orchestra & USSR Radio & TV S.O.: Nikolai Miaskovsky - Complete Symphonies, etc. (France) 16-Warner 2564 69689-8, Handsome Boxed Set. Very long out-of-print, Final Sealed Copy! - 0825646968985
“Yevgeny Svetlanov, the renowned Russian conductor who led his nation's State Symphony Orchestra for 35 years and was a guest conductor of orchestras around the world, was a leading interpreter of Russian composers, and his programs were hailed at home and abroad as disciplined, spirited expressions of Tchaikovsky, Shostakovich, Prokofiev, Rachmaninoff, Mussorgsky and Scriabin, but he also performed Mahler, Beethoven and others in the classic repertory.
One of Russia's most versatile musicians, he was known as a gifted pianist and as a composer of symphonies, instrumental chamber music and vocal pieces. But on tours that took him to Europe, Asia and the Americas, he often spoke of his affection for jazz, the big-band sounds of Glenn Miller, even the Beatles.
In a career that spanned the last decades of the Soviet Union and the vast changes in Russian life and culture of the post-Soviet era, Mr. Svetlanov began conducting for the Soviet All-Union Radio in 1953 while still a conservatory student. After graduation in 1955, he became an assistant conductor for the Bolshoi Theater, and he was its chief conductor from 1963 to 1965. In 1965, he was named artistic director and chief conductor of what was then known as the Soviet State Symphony Orchestra.
Reviewing Mr. Svetlanov and the Moscow Symphony performing Tchaikovsky's ‘Pathétique’ at Carnegie Hall in 1969, Harold C. Schonberg, the music critic of THE NEW YORK TIMES, wrote, ’In this work, there was discipline, there was power, and there was a spirit to the playing that made the work an absorbing experience’.
Mr. Svetlanov's style was not flashy, and his work was praised as sensitive to detail, grasping and molding the music into a structure, with interpretations that were sometimes sentimental but more usually full of power and free of superficial showmanship.”
- Robert D. McFadden, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 6 May, 2002
“Alive during an era of such world-renowned Russian names as Dmitri Shostakovich, Serge Prokofiev, and Aram Khachaturian, it is inevitable that Nicolai Myaskovsky (April 20, 1881 - August 8, 1950) has become lost in the shuffle. Myaskovsky sits nowadays in obscurity while the Soviet Union's ‘holy trinity’ of composers generates euphoria amongst performers, musicologists, and the listening public. But room can no doubt be made in the concert hall for others who were respected in their time, respect that Myaskovsky rightfully earned.
Through recommendation by Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakoff and Sergei Taneyev, Myaskovsky began harmony lessons with Reinhold Glière while his battalion was training in Moscow. The battalion relocated to St. Petersburg, where he studied counterpoint. Gaining direction from such men as Rimsky-Korsakoff and Anatoly Lyadov (whom he greatly disliked), Myaskovsky settled into the form that he would make central throughout his life.
If his Soviet autobiographical writings are indeed accurate, Myaskovsky was politically a liberal and supported the October Revolution. But in a twist of irony, most of the ‘old guard’ had relocated to other countries, including Stravinsky, Rachmaninoff, Scriabin, and Myaskovsky's classmate, Serge Prokofiev, with whom he maintained contact. By remaining in the Soviet Union, Myaskovsky became a symbolic bridge connecting the old Russian artistic world to the new post-revolutionary version. In 1921, he became a professor of composition at the Moscow Conservatory, where he was highly regarded until his death, and his symphonies were an ongoing staple of the concert repertoire.
Myaskovsky wrote 27 symphonies, often composed at a blistering pace (he was known to work on two or three symphonies at once). The symphonies were heard regularly in the Soviet Union and frequently performed abroad. Symphony #5 in D major, Op. 18, 1918 was in fact called the ‘first Soviet symphony’ by Russian critics, although Myaskovsky was not a clear-cut product of the October Revolution like Shostakovich. His symphonies were indeed highly modern works that rivaled western and Soviet colleagues in popularity. In 1935, the Columbia Broadcasting System conducted a survey of its radio listeners, asking which modern-day composers would retain their fame into the next century; Myaskovsky was one of the top ten selections, amongst de Falla, Kreisler, Prokofiev, Rachmaninoff, Ravel, Shostakovich, Sibelius, Richard Strauss, and Stravinsky.
Although highly respected by the Soviet musical community, Myaskovsky was named in the infamous 1948 attacks on ‘formalism’ and ‘bourgeois decadence’ by the Central Committee of the Soviet Communist Party. Myaskovsky had been largely ‘conformist’ in writing music that satisfied government policy while eschewing propaganda and keeping his unique voice; but no prolific composer was spared from the denunciations and Myaskovsky joined Shostakovich, Prokofiev (who had returned to the U.S.S.R.), and Aram Khachaturian (his former student) as cultural advisor Andrei Zhdanov's main targets. The dignified Myaskovsky refused to take part in hearings or ‘repent’ his sins, imposing a death sentence on his compositional career. His health was already failing by this time and he died of cancer in Moscow on August 8th, 1950, having written a large body of work and taught an entire generation of Soviet musicians. He won the Stalin Prize six times, unmatched by any other composer.
While a familiar name to musicologists, Myaskovsky's reputation has waned considerably since his death. His music is seldom performed in concert, scores are rarely found in libraries, and recordings are incredibly scarce. Myaskovsky's canon admittedly fluctuates in quality; this is unavoidable for a man who wrote symphonies, concerti, string quartets, solo piano music, works for chorus, and other arrangements by the truck load. Soviet musicologist Boris Asafiev was correct in speaking of the ‘prism’ through which Myaskovsky worked; he was a highly knowledgeable musician who identified the merits of other composers (as wide as Shostakovich, Grieg, and Wagner) and synthesized these merits into his own language. While his experiments did not always succeed, Myaskovsky proved an open-minded intellectual whose scores often became a laboratory for the various directions that music could take.
In recent years, Myaskovsky has won support from conductors like Yevgeny Svetlanov, who recorded his entire cycle of symphonies, and Neeme Järvi. Myaskovsky, however, remains largely ignored as a composer and best remembered as a teacher who influenced such men as Aram Khachaturian, Dmitri Kabalevsky, Vissarion Shebalin, and Boris Tchaikovsky. Playing such a key role in the education of composers is no disgrace, but his extensive body of work seems to be crying for rediscovery.”
- Paul-John Ramos, Classical.Net