José Serebrier

Glazunov: Complete Concertos

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A complete recording of Alexander Glazunov's concertos, including related works for solo instrument and orchestra, might have seemed an unpromising undertaking; except for the Violin Concerto in A minor, Op. 82, and the Saxophone Concerto in E flat major, Op. 109, these works are not often played, at least outside Russia. On hearing the results, you're prepared to credit the major Warner Classics & Jazz label for taking a chance on an unorthodox project. Then you learn something still more surprising: according to Uruguayan conductor José Serebrier, who contributes an elegant set of booklet notes to the CD release, he was initially approached by the label, not vice versa. He was skeptical about the whole idea but warmed to it as he reviewed Glazunov's music. Someone had very good instincts indeed: Serebrier by the time this disc was issued had recorded a good deal of Glazunov with various groups, and he seems to be in the middle of a one-man campaign to rehabilitate the composer's reputation. His booklet notes name-check Bach and Mahler as composers who took a long time to be rediscovered, and the amazing thing is that by the time you're through with this album you'll be ready to sign on to the missionary endeavor. The key here seems to be that hearing a lot of Glazunov attunes the listener to his musical language, which due to its tonal orientation and sober manner has unfairly been tagged with the C-word: conservative. All these concertos share a sectional architecture, with rapid shifts in tempo that relax into gorgeous lyrical episodes and come together into big finales. The structure can be deployed to approximate the classical three-movement concerto form, or tweaked into the variation set that makes up the second and final movement of the Piano Concerto No. 1 in F minor, Op. 82. And at the micro level, the structure is highly variable. Glazunov's rhythmic sense is as subtle as those of composers who referred to complex mathematical models, and the range of relationships between solo instrument and orchestra is vast. Serebrier, well into his eighth decade when this album was recorded in Moscow, leads a Russian National Orchestra for whom this music is bred in the bone, and he finds a quintet of young soloists, violinist Rachel Barton Pine, pianist Alexander Romanovsky, cellist Wen-Sinn Yang, saxophonist Marc Chisson, and French hornist Alexey Serov, who get the performance traditions involved in the msuic and deliver its ravishing melodies with enthusiasm and passion. A superb, even groundbreaking effort all around.

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
Piano Concerto No. 1 in F minor, Op. 92
1 12:01
2 1:32
3 1:25
4 1:22
5 1:03
6 2:55
7 0:46
8 2:20
9 1:32
10 1:41
11 3:38
12 3:17
Concerto Ballata in C major for cello & orchestra, Op. 108
13 5:33
14 2:10
15 7:07
16 5:06
17 4:10
blue highlight denotes track pick