Meir Minsky

Tansman: Symphony No. 5

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Less a lesser Stravinsky than a lesser Honegger, Alexandre Tansman's Symphony No. 5 in D minor is much less than the sum of its parts. And its parts aren't all that much to begin with. Its Lentos are dreary and its Allegros are discursive. Its Intermezzo is instantly forgettable and its Scherzo is insipidly diabolical. But more like a soulful Stravinsky than the faux Stravinsky symphony, Tansman's Stèle (In memoriam d'Igor Stravinsky) is much more than the sum of its parts. And its parts are much more than their titles would suggest. Its Elegia is vast and full of sorrow, its Studio ritmico is vibrant and full of color, and its Lamento is violent and full of terror. And more like himself than anybody else, Tansman's Movements (4) for orchestra is simply as convincing a modernist symphonic piece as has ever been recorded.

Meir Minsky and the Czech-Slovak State Philharmonic Orchestra almost do Tansman justice. That is, their performance of the symphony sounds scrappy, their performance of the Stèle sounds monumental, and their performance of the Movements (4) is magnificent. Marco Polo's 1991 sound is a bit dry and very live.

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