P0138. EVGENI SVETLANOV: Medtner Recital. Russian Disc 10 045, recorded 1980-81. Long out-of-print, Final Sealed Copy! - 748871004528
“Svetlanov graduated from the Gnessin Institute as a pianist, going on to the Moscow Conservatory to study conducting and composition. During the graduation concert at the Institute, Heinrich Neuhaus was the head of the jury. Svetlanov’s playing impressed Neuhaus who invited him to continue his piano studies in his class. If I am not mistaken, Svetlanov had one piano lesson with Neuhaus. If I am wrong, then maybe two, but not more, as they didn’t seem to ‘click’. Svetlanov brought his favorite piece, ‘La Valse’ by Ravel, to the first lesson and played very well. I was present at that lesson. First of all, Neuhaus said he didn’t like this piece, and then made a couple of reluctant comments. In brief, it didn’t go well - Neuhaus was a complex person. But it was not that important, however, because Svetlanov played wonderfully anyway, and had a very active life as a pianist at that time. Svetlanov and I played an immense amount of symphonic literature together. I was his partner in this duo. We performed practically the entire Russian and a lot of Western symphonic music for four hands.”
- Nina Moznaïm Svetlanova
“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