The Trouble With Aleksandr

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dulcinea
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The Trouble With Aleksandr

Post by dulcinea » Sat Aug 13, 2005 3:33 pm

I first knew Glazunov because of THE SEASONS, a pretty little trifle. Although not on the level of Chaikovskii, it inspired me to listen to his symphonies and other pieces. Almost immediately, I noticed something very strange: no matter how carefully I listened, even in the case of his Saxophone Concerto, which I have heard half a dozen times--WUSF-FM has no other saxophone concerti--, I could never remember ANYTHING--not a single tune, not a single climax. The works of Glazunov always follow this pattern: a lot of notes, the orchestra churning furiously, obviously striving for a thrilling tune and climax comparable to the third movement of the PATHETIQUE Symphony--only for the orchestra to collapse in exhaustion, without the many notes and the many churning instruments being able to come forth with a catchy tune or a satisfying climax. Why is this? What is the matter with this composer who was a favorite student of Rimskii-Korsakov and a cousin of Chaikovskii? My impression is that, sometime after the composition of THE SEASONS, which was an early work, the talent of Glazunov froze and stopped growing and maturing, and henceforth it was only capable of creating music that was technically accomplished, but essentially uninspired, uninteresting and unmemorable.
Let every thing that has breath praise the Lord! Alleluya!

Gregory Kleyn

Re: The Trouble With Aleksandr

Post by Gregory Kleyn » Sat Aug 13, 2005 5:29 pm

dulcinea wrote:I first knew Glazunov because of THE SEASONS, a pretty little trifle. Although not on the level of Chaikovskii, it inspired me to listen to his symphonies and other pieces. Almost immediately, I noticed something very strange: no matter how carefully I listened, even in the case of his Saxophone Concerto, which I have heard half a dozen times--WUSF-FM has no other saxophone concerti--, I could never remember ANYTHING--not a single tune, not a single climax. The works of Glazunov always follow this pattern: a lot of notes, the orchestra churning furiously, obviously striving for a thrilling tune and climax comparable to the third movement of the PATHETIQUE Symphony--only for the orchestra to collapse in exhaustion, without the many notes and the many churning instruments being able to come forth with a catchy tune or a satisfying climax. Why is this? What is the matter with this composer who was a favorite student of Rimskii-Korsakov and a cousin of Chaikovskii? My impression is that, sometime after the composition of THE SEASONS, which was an early work, the talent of Glazunov froze and stopped growing and maturing, and henceforth it was only capable of creating music that was technically accomplished, but essentially uninspired, uninteresting and unmemorable.
This is all total bull crap and not even worthy of any specific refutation (of which much could be offered) given the obvious insincerity of your attack. It's another round of the common entertainment here we call "trash the composer", - in which all manner of condescending and dismissive rhetoric masquerades itself under a disguise of honest perplexity and genuine inquiry. Furthermore, your ideas and even the words themselves I suspect are cheaply plagiarized from another source rather than reflective of any sustained encounter with Glazunov's music. I'ts a conventional and utterly threadbare response to Glazunov, - probably first penned by some wiseacre pesudo-critic in Gramophone Magazine long ago, and then successively appropriated over the years by that large congregation of ever-present posturers without much sensibility who yet want to convey some aura of being sophisticated and discriminating.

I'm sorry, but that's how your post smells to me.

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Post by Febnyc » Sat Aug 13, 2005 6:13 pm

I'm in total agreement with Gregory Kleyn. This sort of claptrap vis-a-vis the music of Glazunov is legendary. Of course, it's light years from the truth.

I can hum a number of Glazunov "tunes." But that's not the point. If anyone has a doubt about the lyricism of this composer, I'd recommend a listen to the opening of his Symphony No.3 - as one example. (And, while you're at it, stay with the whole work - and see if you find anything "uninspired, uninteresting and unmemorable.")

oisfetz
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Post by oisfetz » Sat Aug 13, 2005 7:20 pm

And if you can't remember the melodies of his v.c., is because you are deaf or stupid.

dulcinea
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The Trouble With Aleksandr

Post by dulcinea » Sat Aug 13, 2005 10:13 pm

:lol: Insults are no substitute for reasoned argument. You could have done a lot of sensible things, such as suggesting pieces that you consider outstanding and which would show Glazunov under a more favorable light (it has been my regular experience that chamber music has a way of making even minor composers sound superb). Instead, you insult like the bigots of rec.music.classical. Newsflash!: this is not rec.music.classical; here you keep a cool head and your temper under check. If you don't like the way things are done here, you can always go and stay at rec.music.classical. As to the Violin Concerto, after hearing it three times, I can aver that those of Barber, Khachaturian and Sibelius are much better.
Let every thing that has breath praise the Lord! Alleluya!

rogch
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Post by rogch » Sun Aug 14, 2005 4:50 am

oisfetz wrote:And if you can't remember the melodies of his v.c., is because you are deaf or stupid.
That kind of language does not belong in this forum i think. Strong words about music or musicans is one thing, personal attacks on members of the forum is something else.
Even though dulcinea's critisism of Glazunov is pretty harsh, i don't think it is inproper. Whether you agree or not is another matter, but her critisism is focused on the music.
Glazunov was the man who walked out of the concert hall when one of Prokofiev's pieces was preformed because he though it would damage his hearing. And Rachmaninov did not think too highly of Glazunov's musical abilities.
I haven't heard too many of Glazunov's works. Most of what i have heard has been OK, but not as exciting as the works of many other Russian romantic composers. An exception is a relatively obscure work for string quartet recorded by the Norwegian Vertavo quartet on an jubilee cd. That was brilliant. But compared to Russian composers like Rachmaninov, Tchaikovsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, Glinka, Borodin and others i don't think Glazunov's music is the most exciting
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Post by jbuck919 » Sun Aug 14, 2005 5:07 am

I think we've discovered what happens when we (even unintentionally) hit someone where he lives in terms of favorite composers. On top of that, lots of people take a comprehensive approach to classical listening and try to find room for everything (and perhaps honestly like everything they hear).

Personally, my musical space, constrained by time and the ability to concentrate, is filled up somewhat before it will fit in a large number of composers who mean nothing to me but who apparently have something going for them or they wouldn't still be around. In general, I have discovered that criticizing specific composers in this forum invites more problems than it is worth. The only thing that determines the relative value of composers is the opinion of numbers of connoisseurs over a period of time, and pretty much everyone who comes here is in that "voting pool."

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Post by Ralph » Sun Aug 14, 2005 7:27 am

A great and inexpensive way to become familiar with Glazunov is through the NAXOS releases which cover a very wide range of this prolific composer's output.
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Post by Lance » Sun Aug 14, 2005 11:58 am

I did a search on Glazunov to see how many of the world's great performers have recorded his music. The results are amazing. The genius of a composer is often represented by how much his music is performed or recorded. Glazunov is recorded more than he is performed, or so it seems.

Names such as Heifetz, Golovanov, Simon Barere, Leo Sirota, the Calvet Quartet, Sviatoslav Richter, Mravinsky, Stokowski, Frederick Stock, David Oistrakh, Anton Kuerti, Victor de Sabata, Mitropoulos, Leonid Kogan, Ida Haendel, Maria Yudina, Ernest Ansermet, Gil Shaham, Itzhak Perlman, Rostropovitch, Evgeny Svetlanov, Robert Irving, Constant Lambert, and many, many others have performed and recorded Glazunov's music. They must have felt his music was worthy of demanding their attention. As far as the violinists are concerned, the usual composition was the Violin Concerto.

Even on today's musical scene, people such as Nikoai Znaider, Stephen Coombs (who has recorded most, if not all, of Glazunov's solo piano music filling up four CDs).

Like the original poster, I don't walk away whistling Glazunov's melodies, nonetheless I find it enjoyable listening. Further, Glazunov's output affords us the opportunity hear music influenced by the late Russian Romantic movement into the twentieth century.

In researching Glazunov's background, it is noted that his development was extremely methodical and from his first symphony (composed at age 16) to his final works, it is interesting to note that he stopped composing after the war and the Revolution, there is one continuous line in the symphonic tradition, uninfluenced by any of the revolutionary developments in 20th century music. He was considered a brilliant man, having studied with Rimsky-Korsakov in 1880 and mastering the complete course in composition in one and a half years of weekly lessons.

Glazunov's inspiration comes from many sources in his programmatic music ... Russian Orientalism (Oriental Rhapsody, Dreams of the Orient); Greek modes (the two Green Overtures); Finalnd: Finnish Fantasy, Finnish Sketches, Karelian Legend), and even old dance forms such as can be found in his ballets, Raymonda, The Seasons, Gentlewoman-Sevant, and even in ecclesiastical modes to be found in his work entitled In the Middle Ages.

One work I would love to hear is his incidental music to Romanoff's mystery play entitled The King of the Jews, Op. 95, composed in 1914.

Glazunov's output was enormous, actually: some 48 works for orchestra, including seven symphonies; three ballet scores; eight chamber works; 18 or so solo pieces for piano; eight miscellaneous pieces for other instruments, and 10 vocal compositions ... all representing a lifetime of dedication to music.
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oisfetz
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Post by oisfetz » Sun Aug 14, 2005 2:17 pm

You should try his chamber; the first SQ 0p.1 is a very early and derivative work, but the following 6 , as his string quintet and his suite for SQ are all very fine works.Dont forget the mouvements he composed for "Fridays", "Birthday" and the B-La-F SQ.. Also his beautiful Concerto ballata op.108 for cello and orchestra. :D :D :D

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Post by daycart » Mon Aug 15, 2005 12:58 am

I've been listening to the piano Etudes recently--quite worthwhile!

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Post by springrite » Mon Aug 15, 2005 11:56 pm

I enjoy listening to Coomb's recording of Glazunov's piano works. But still, Galzunov is not among the composers I listen to much. There are lots of things missing in his music (of the things that are important to me), but a lack of tunes is certainly not one of them. Personally I find the music pleasantly bland and lacking in inspiration. But the piano works, and as someone has mentioned earlier, the chmaber music, are quite nice to listen to, at least once in a while.
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