Gennady Rozhdestvensky

Glazunov: Symphonies

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The nine symphonies of Alexander Glazunov are puzzling rarities in the concert hall: puzzling because they are precisely the kind of approachable and tonal orchestral music audiences claim to want and rarities because conductors and impresarios regularly overlook them. Yet Glazunov was as skilled at orchestration as Rimsky-Korsakov, as expressive a melodist as Tchaikovsky, as evocative a harmonist as Elgar, and as important to his colleagues as Brahms, so his post-Romantic symphonies really merit more attention. This box set from 1983-1985 of the eight completed symphonies and the unfinished ninth brings these neglected works together in one convenient package, and the performances by Gennady Rozhdestvensky and the USSR Ministry of Culture Symphony Orchestra are respectable attempts to bring justice to these works. There are occasional inaccuracies of pitch, due mostly to apparent stretching of the master tapes, and the acoustics are quite resonant, so the orchestra is a little hazy or bloated sounding in spots. But considering the paucity of Glazunov recordings and the need to have performances by musicians who understand the symphonies best, this set is a worthy starting point. There are complete digital sets on Brilliant Classics and Naxos, as well as individual CDs on other labels, so collectors should compare recordings before settling on this historic cycle, but Rozhdestvensky's set is still a decent package for making acquaintance with these symphonies.

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