Reinhold Glière

Concerto for coloratura soprano & orchestra, Op. 82

    Description by Blair Johnston

    Reyngol'd Moritsevich Glier, or Reinhold Glière, as his name more commonly reads, is one of those fascinating Russian composers who witnessed the transition from the late Romantic period to the Soviet era. While Glière was born into the nationalist-driven (but ultimately French-oriented) musical world of mid- to late nineteenth century Russia, he lived all the way up to 1956, gathering up armfuls of official Soviet artistic commendations and teaching, until 1941, at the Moscow Conservatory. During none of the U.S.S.R.'s various political or artistic upheavals, however, did he feel compelled to abandon his gently melodic musical style. The Concerto for coloratura soprano and orchestra, Op. 82, of 1942-1943, shows that style off as well as any piece he wrote; it also demonstrates how little interested Glière was in the sharper, grittier music of Dmitry Shostakovich and his many followers.

    The most striking thing about the Concerto for coloratura soprano and orchestra, Op. 82, is, of course, its instrumentation. The idea of writing music without text for a singer was not new (Glière's contemporary Sergey Rachmaninov wrote perhaps the most famous such piece, the treasured Vocalise, Op. 34/14), but the idea of making a full-scale concerto for such an "instrument" certainly was. The concerto has two movements -- Andante and Allegro -- and lasts between ten and twelve minutes. A melancholy, unharmonized tune in the strings ushers in the first movement; the winds join in to fill out the texture, and the soprano promptly enters. Great spans of melody, thrown against washes of deep, rich orchestral texture, drive the movement from climax to climax. The warm Allegro has a great deal of lighthearted humor to it, and one can hear in it strands reminiscent of Tchaikovsky's ballets and even, somewhat more surprisingly, Wagner's music-dramas.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Andante
    2. Allegro

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2018 Cameo Classics CC 9107
    2014 ATMA Classique ACD 22692
    2014 Aliud Records AUC~SACD 59
    2012 BIS BIS 1962
    2011 Decca
    2011 Northern Flowers NFPMA 9989
    2010 Decca
    2009 Documents/Membran / Membran 231885
    2001 Decca 470026
    2001 Music & Arts 1079
    1998 Grammofono 2000 91090
    1998 Angel Records / Erato 7243556565
    1996 Consonance 3002
    1996 RCA 74321 32045-2
    1995 Orfeo 072831
    1993 Chandos 9094
    Monitor 72030
    MCA 25966
    Myto Records 81009
    dB Productions 50
    IMP Classics 827
    EMI Classics 14129