Gennady Rozhdestvensky

Boris Tischenko: Symphony No. 6

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Boris Tischenko's Sixth Symphony -- an hour-long song cycle in five movements setting texts by such Russian poets as Anna Akhmatova, Marina Tsvetayeva, and Osip Mandelshtam for soprano, contralto and orchestra -- is an all too typical piece post-Shostakovich symphonism. With its strident sonorities, harsh harmonies, searing themes, and brutal scoring, it reminds one of the late, great Dmitry Dmitrievich at every turn. In this dedicated performance with Gennady Rozhdestvensky leading the USSR Ministry of Culture Symphony Orchestra plus soprano Valentina Yuzvenko and alto Elena Rubin, the parlando text setting, the astringent string writing, the percussion driven marches, the blistering but still tonal harmonies: these things and a hundred others great and small sound so like the manner of older composer that Tischenko's homage seems all too close to pastiche. It might be that the singing of Yuzvenko and Rubin is sharp and scratchy, that the conducting of Rozhdestvensky is overly bombastic, and that the Ministry of Culture musicians are having an off day. But it seems more likely that Tischenko is a mediocre composer and that the performers are doing whatever it takes to get through under the circumstances. Recorded in the Grand Hall of the Leningrad Philharmonic in 1989, the digital recording here is hard, edgy, and close to painful in climaxes.

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