Classical Music Forum banner
5821 - 5833 of 5833 Posts

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
3,191 Posts
I've listened to the Glazunov 5 twice this week. I love this Russian style of music. When I'm next in the mood for this type of rich, romantic White-Russian, heart-felt music, I can see me giving it a lot of airtime.

Thanks for choosing this piece, Carmina Banana 👍
 
  • Like
Reactions: sbmonty

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
7,356 Posts
Still off on holiday so I've battered this piece. I like this quartet and its blatant romanticism. I would have liked a bit more bite written into the finale but it's still an interesting piece that I've grown to like. My thoughts on recordings are in the link below for those interested.

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
771 Posts
I like Glazunov. I love romantic, Russian music. I should like this one, but after one listen I can't say I do. Again, I have to provide the disclaimer that this was my instant reaction after only one listen to Glazunov's 5th.

There was a thread which asked if members take notes. Well, I never take notes unless it's a first listen to one of our selections in the Weekly String Quartet thread which I'm not sure I'll hear multiple times within a week. So, here are some semi-random, stream of consciousness notes I took while listening to it:

Movements:
I) Earnest, elegiac opening. General tenor is somber and borderline depressing, despite some attempts at lyricism. Didn't really work. To be honest, it's serious music by a great composer which others might like, it's just not for me...at least not after only one listen.

II) I like this. Light, brilliant string writing. It almost sounds like a Russian landler, despite the title and meter. Very enjoyable. As they used to say on American Bandstand's Rate-A-Record, "it's got a good beat and you can dance to it."

III) Alright, this angst is bordering on Shostakovich territory, or should I say vice-versa when listening to Shostakovich, although his angst is much more compelling than this. About midway through it gets more interesting. Nevertheless, it still sounds a bit static. Either go into full elegiac mode or evolve or develop into something more compelling. Feels like a one note work: somber.

IV) Are you kidding? I don't buy it after what preceded the Finale. Nevertheless, I actually like it as a stand-alone piece. Almost the Russian string quartet version of the finales of Beethoven's "Pastorale" Symphony and Tchaikovsky's 4th. Light, celebratory dancing and giving thanks and all that hooey.

This was just a first listen but the slow movements don't seem to fit with the quick ones. Actually, I'm not sure any of them fit together. It's as if he wrote four movements that were never intended to be part of one unified work, but they were thrown together. Then again, he's Glazunov and I'm not, so I must have missed a lot on this initial listen. I couldn't grasp Beethoven's "Eroica" on first listen. It took me at least a couple years to wrap my brain around any of Mahler's symphonies. Based on everyone else's reactions, I'm sure my opinion will change with subsequent listening sessions, however, I'm not really sure I want to listen to it again. Sorry. There were some good things in it, but as a unified multi-movement work it didn't really grab me.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
7,356 Posts
I know I've mentioned these twice already but, if you don't already know them, Glazunov's 5 Novelletes for SQ are just total earworms and much better than this 5th quartet. I've fallen head over heels for their charms (the 2nd, 4th and 5th are a total delight). So good, in fact, I ended up reviewing all of them. Lol


 

·
Registered
Joined
·
771 Posts
Merl, those Novelettes are great. I wish there was more light and entertaining music written for string quartet. There is some stuff, like Dvorak's Cypresses, but most composers approach the string quartet as a symphony for 4 instruments, which is fine, but neglect to write other kinds of music for that ensemble. I think it would do much for the genre's overly serious reputation to have more showpieces, suites, tone poems, character pieces, etc., just as there are for orchestra, solo piano, wind ensemble and other ensembles. Of course, I'm a big fan of serious string quartets but I'm also a fan of variety.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,599 Posts
Merl, those Novelettes are great. I wish there was more light and entertaining music written for string quartet. There is some stuff, like Dvorak's Cypresses, but most composers approach the string quartet as a symphony for 4 instruments, which is fine, but neglect to write other kinds of music for that ensemble. I think it would do much for the genre's overly serious reputation to have more showpieces, suites, tone poems, character pieces, etc., just as there are for orchestra, solo piano, wind ensemble and other ensembles. Of course, I'm a big fan of serious string quartets but I'm also a fan of variety.
But this is more or less true for almost any music for more than two musicians. There are not many shortish pieces for trio (Schumann wrote some but it never really caught on). There are not that many shortish full orchestral pieces either or they are just taken from longer ones.
Presumeably there is/was a lot of "light music" for ensembles, incl. string quartet, in the 19th century but these were usually arrangements of all kinds of "popular" music, such as opera arias/excerpts, not original compositions.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,726 Posts
@Merl Thanks for the Novelettes , I mean I had to look them up ... Thoroughly enjoyable , I too enjoy the romantic Russian music and I agree that there should be more light and entertaining music for SQ like this .
I listened to the recording by the Shostakovich Q , which I thought was satisfactory
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,946 Posts
Oops ... I think I don't have the right antennas for Glasunov ...

Looking at my shelf I didn't find more than his Violin Concerto and "The Seasons". Both were not buyed on purpose, they just came along with the reasons to buy the CD in question (Tchaikovsky, Dvorak or Sibelius VC, Prokofiev's Cinderella).

So I didn't know neither a symphony nor a string quartet by Glasunov before.

I perceived the music as longing and somehow suffering, but without reasons. I had the impression somehow that the music was just pretending something.

The best was the finale.

So either I have to make some training for my antennas or I should listen elsewhere ...

... but thanks to Carmina Banana anyway! Only if we know our limits, we get a feeling what can be achieved and what not.
 

·
Registered
Bach, Brahms, Schubert, Sibelius, Mahler, Messiaen
Joined
·
3,495 Posts
Glazunov has not done much for me in the past. I've enjoyed listening to his vibrant, tuneful ballet The Seasons every once in a while as a piece of unabashed ear candy—it's a masterclass of orchestration—but his symphonies and concerti usually come across as rambling and unmemorable. Mostly I see him as a sort of second-rate Tchaikovsky who ruined the premiere of Rachmaninoff's 1st symphony by showing up drunk to conduct it. So I didn't go into this one with high expectations, but I was pleasantly surprised by what I heard. Sure, this is treacly romanticism, but is that really all that bad? There were plenty enough original touches to keep me engaged. Glazunov can lose me with the seemingly unstructured nature of his movements, but here that trait manifested itself as a lovely rhapsodic nature—you never quite know what to expect from moment to moment. For this reason, the first movement was my favorite—it's lovely, patient, languorous music; perfect for a warm, lazy summer afternoon and full of really nice counterpoint although admittedly it does start to sound a bit like a conservatory exercise at times due to this (only a gifted few composers can write polyphony that doesn't sound at least a little bit dry and academic). But it's great to hear a slower movement to start a work, and its bittersweet lyricism sets it apart. That scherzo—so much fun! How can you help cracking a smile and tapping your foot along with it? OK, maybe it's a little trite, but it is irresistable. The third movement sounds quite similar to the first but sounds like Tchaikovsky at his best, and I agree with others that the finale is a bit unconvincing, but it still wrapped it up well IMO even while lacking distinctive features. Despite its compositional intricacy at times, the whole work has a bit of a homespun rustic sound to it with strains of peasant tunes. That's part of the Russian charm, methinks. Perhaps not a new favorite, but I would certainly revisit it again with pleasure along with the rest of Glazunov's quartets. At his best his tender melodicism can be quite addictive.

Even though I had never heard any other recordings of the work, I knew from the first few bars of the St. Petersburg Quartet recording that this a special performance; one of those treasured readings that is delivered with such penetrating vision that you know your attention is going to be gripped from start to finish. And so it was. The passion, sensitivity, and beauty of this performance was top-shelf. Later, when I sampled the Delray recording (the only other one on my streaming), I was shocked at how different performances can affect one's impressions, as what I had previously thought to be an evocation of a placid summer idyll in the first movement sounded more like a lethargic, sunless winter day to me. That is, frankly, a dull, rocky, and poorly-played reading compared to the St. Petersburg, with an extremely dry recording acoustic.

StevehamNY will pick next.

StevehamNY
Burbage
Kjetil Heggelund
Enthusiast
Kreisler jr
allaroundmusicenthusiast
HerbertNorman
Philidor
maestro267
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
171 Posts
Thanks to all of you for giving the Glazunov a shot. It is wonderful to be able to listen to a piece, wonder what others might think of it, and then find out!

I like this piece more than most I think. I find it to be a solid, rewarding listen; it tugs on my heartstrings at times and fires me up at other times. However, I can see how it was not quite doing it for others.

The word academic was not one I was going to use but perhaps that could be applied because Glazunov was a big part of the St. Petersburg Conservatory and his biggest concern with students seemed to be making things “correct;” smoothing out any distraction dissonances, etc.

It seems as if Russia (and later the Soviet Union) had difficult decisions to make when they began a concerted effort to educate Russian musicians around the middle of the 19th century. What is a Russian musician? Someone well-schooled in the European tradition? Or someone connected to folk traditions of the Motherland? That is partly what interests me about a figure like Glazunov. The music studied in the conservatory at this time seems to have been mostly romantic composers like Schumann, Liszt, Mendelssohn. But there must have been some pressure to create a homegrown style of music as well.

I suppose we all have experienced some of that tension in our education. I was schooled in Bach and Beethoven and had to go to ramshackle house on the other side of town to learn about jazz and blues.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
31,548 Posts
Inspired by this week's choice I have listened to all of his string quartets (including the Novelettes) the past few days, I found every quartet to be pleasant, but none of them (including the 5th) going beyond that. In fact, the Novelettes were clearly the best of the bunch for me, but even there it does not go beyond 'really like'. It is a general 'problem' (or not) that I have with Glazunov and a few more composers like him - the music is always at a level that I enjoy listening to it, but never gets close to a level that I'd say, hold on, I want to hear that again.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
274 Posts
"Imagine a very drunken Prokofiev writing a ballet for robots" (American Record Guide)

So after Glazunov week, I wasn’t sure if I should keep the Russian theme going, but a couple of interesting observations from Carmina made me think this could be a good follow-up.

In describing Glazunov’s reputation in the early 20th century, Carmina noted that “Glazunov was a big part of the St. Petersburg Conservatory and his biggest concern with students seemed to be making things ‘correct;’ smoothing out any distraction dissonances, etc.” He was the director of the St. Petersburg Conservatory for 23 important years, in fact, seeing it through a national revolution and helping to reorganize it into the Leningrad Conservatory. When I read about Shostakovich and Prokofiev, it’s clear that Glazunov represented the “establishment” to them, in ways both good and bad. Shostakovich, especially, owes a huge debt to Glazunov’s mentorship. But at the same time, as Carmina also noted, Glazunov didn’t quite appreciate some of the music created by these young whippersnappers, or whatever the correct Russian word would be. He famously lumped together many of the more modernist composers into a group he called “recherché cacophonists.”

But if this is how the venerable Glazunov received the music of Shostakovich and Prokofiev, what on earth could he have made of Alexander Vasilyevich Mosolov, the wild child of the rival Moscow Conservatory?

You may know him from the 1926 piece, Iron Foundry, or if you’re like me (a pianophile long before my pandemical discovery of string quartets), you’ll know of his striking, angular piano sonatas. But he also wrote his first string quartet that same year of 1926, when he was just 26 years old. Decades before Keith Moon threw his first television through a hotel window, Mosolov would be expelled from the composer’s union because of a drunken brawl at a restaurant. He would be sent to the gulag shortly after, spend eight months there (out of an eight-year sentence), then get sprung early with the help of Glière and Myaskovsky. He would live until 1973, but never write another piece with the same fiery F***-it-all originality of his youth.

With that introduction, please keep your arms and legs inside the ride at all times and remain seated until it comes to a complete stop. It’s the String Quartet #1 (1926) by Alexander Mosolov.

This is a recording from the Novosibirsk Filarmonica String Quartet:


The Utrecht Quartet (seen last week playing Glazunov, talk about a change of gears!) has also recorded it.

NOTE: If you're looking for the quartet on Spotify or Amazon Music (and maybe on the other streaming services), they’ve done a remarkably bad job of tagging the music correctly, so it may be hard to find. But both of these albums should be out there, if you search on the explicit titles. For the Novosibirsk, this is the album:

Sky Cloud Poster Font Red sky at morning


You may also find the same recording in the Arte Nova “Russian Futurism” series, but the above album is what I found on Spotify. You have to search on the exact album name, because you won’t find it under Mosolov. (Despite the order on the cover, by the way, the Mosolov quartet is last. And while I’m here, as the cover guy can I just rave about this cover for one second? This one will stick in your mind for a long time.)

And for the Utrecht, once again you may need to search on the exact album title:

Guitar accessory Musical instrument Amber Font Material property


(Again, the Mosolov quartet is last.)

I hope you enjoy this wildly original quartet!

Forehead Nose Hair Chin Eyebrow
 
5821 - 5833 of 5833 Posts
Top