Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Taneyev: Concert Suite For Violin, Etc

"This is serious music yet without severity and full of appealing humanity" --MusicWeb

Sergei Taneyev (1856-1915) composed his last orchestral work, the Concert Suite for Violin and Orchestra, in 1909. Though modeled on the Baroque-era suite, it nonetheless has the feel of a big, Romantic violin concerto, even if it's not particularly distinctive melodically (especially considering he was a pupil of that great tunesmith Tchaikovsky). The work begins with a prelude featuring Bach-like violin recitatives, and then moves on to a charming Gavotte followed by a beautiful and deeply felt interlude titled Fairy Tale.

The main movement is the big theme and variations, notable both for its brilliant invention and for its many challenging twists and turns for the violin soloist. Pekka Kuusisto is more than up to the challenge, providing a technically and musically stunning performance of the entire piece. A spirited Tarantella, its cheery frenzy reminiscent of the finale of of Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherezade, makes for a flashy ending.

Taneyev's opera Oresteya was premiered by the Maryinsky Theatre in 1895, but was soon dropped for reasons that have nothing to do with its musical quality. The lush and exotic thematic material of the two excerpts presented here make you wish for the entire opera. The Temple of Apollo at Delphi entr'acte begins in a misty Mussorgskian atmosphere, but later boasts Wagnerian fanfares. The Oresteya overture is not from the opera, but rather is a separate composition utilizing some of its material. (Strangely enough, part of it sounds a lot like the Fate motif from Bizet's Carmen.) Elsewhere, Taneyev's study with Tchaikovsky is clearly evident in the overall shape of the piece, as well as its ear-catching orchestration (though thematically the clear influence is Rimsky-Korsakov). Vladimir Ashkenazy's idiomatic way with Russian music is fully in evidence here, and he has the highly impressive Helsinki Philharmonic playing with razor-sharp precision and more than ample power. Ondine's recording is sumptuously full-bodied, with plenty of impact. --Victor Carr Jr., ClassicsToday.com

MP3 320 · 143 MB

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