Alexander Glazunov

Symphony No. 6 in C minor, Op. 58

    Description by James Leonard

    While the Symphony No. 6 in C minor, Op. 58, of 1896 by Alexander Glazunov is not the most personally characteristic of his eight completed symphonies -- the optimistic Third or the Olympian Fifth are more typical of his confident symphonic aesthetic -- it is arguably the most typically Russian of his symphonies. Part of the reason for this is the scoring -- violins in octaves above massed brass at its climaxes à la Tchaikovsky and gorgeously colorful woodwind writing in its central movements -- part of it is the themes -- ardent and powerful with a yearning quality characteristic of fin de siècle Russian symphonies -- but most of it is the furious tone of the opening movement. With the darkly unfolding Adagio leading into a Allegro appassionato that balances a passionately despairing first theme with a fervently supplicating second theme, Glazunov's Sixth sounds like a Russian symphony composed after the death of Tchaikovsky. But the Sixth is more than the work of a symphonic epigone. While the tone of the opening movement sounds typically Russian, its chromatic melodic and cogent harmonic structure makes it sound much more modern than contemporary symphonies by Kalinnikov or even Rachmaninov. Even more modern are the Sixth's second and fourth movements. The second movement is a theme and seven variations that slowly transmutes the tone of the symphony from the fury of the opening movement to one of calm acceptance. The brief third-movement Intermezzo that precedes the Finale is lighter in tone than anything else in the symphony. The Finale itself is one of Glazunov's most successful closing movements. With its magisterial Andante maestoso introduction announcing the chorale theme that will ultimately cap the movement, its highly contrasted themes -- the first confidently striding in the winds Moderato maestoso, the second a lilting Scherzando theme for the flutes, horns, and strings -- the Finale seems at first too episodic to cohere. Glazunov's superb technical skills, however, form all the Finale's material into an organic whole and the tone of the Finale -- powerfully positive -- is altogether Glazunov's own.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Adagio - Allegro passionato
    2. Tema con varazioni
    3. Intermezzo. Allegretto
    4. Finale. Andante maestoso

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2013 Brilliant Classics 94719
    2012 Warner Classics 662749
    2012 Warner Classics 2564664674
    2012 Naxos 8501059
    2011 Melodiya MELCD 1001790
    2009 Denon Records
    2009 Svetlanov 21-26/18
    2008 Warner Classics 69627
    2007 BIS 1663
    2007 Brilliant Classics 93565
    2004 Chandos 10238
    2003 BIS 1368
    2002 EMI / EMI Music Distribution 751122A
    2000 Naxos 8 554293
    1996 BIS 746
    1995 ASV CDDCA904
    1994 Orfeo 157201
    1994 ASV 699
    Brilliant Classics 93565/5
    Melodiya 1000026
    Arlecchino 60