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Alexander Mosolov: Symphony No. 5 & Harp Concerto


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Author Topic: Alexander Mosolov: Symphony No. 5 & Harp Concerto  (Read 299 times)
Holger
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« on: October 31, 2020, 12:06:28 pm »

Naxos will release a new CD with Alexander Mosolov's Symphony No. 5 (1965) and his Harp Concerto (1939) later this year:
https://www.jpc.de/jpcng/classic/detail/-/art/sinfonie-5-harp-concerto/hnum/10336061

Mosolov is of course a classical example of a Soviet composer who had to change his style substantially by force (he was imprisoned for some time in the 1930s). His most famous piece is the short "Iron Foundry" from the unfinished ballet "Steel", a work of just a few minutes suggesting factory noise. In the 1920s and early 1930s, Mosolov's style was pretty radical and more and more atonal (as for instance in his First Piano Concerto). His works after the arrest are completely different and, as I have to say, not very convincing from all I heard so far. Northern Flowers brought out his Symphony in E Major (probably unnumbered) several years ago and in my view, it is a really weak piece, also weaker than "conformist" symphonies by other Soviet composers from those days. Nevertheless, I am happy to get another opportunity of trying some of Mosolov's later output now and will gladly buy this CD once it is available. There are still many open questions about his later works anyway, since the work lists available are partially contradictory, and possibly this release can shed some light on this.
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rkhenderson
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« Reply #1 on: October 31, 2020, 06:19:16 pm »

Wow, great! That's an unexpected recording. Is the Symphony in E minor from 1944 his No. 4?

As you say, I'm not hopeful of these works being especially strong if the works I have from Mosolov of that period are anything to go by.

Wish they would record some fine neglected composers from that era. My usual requests being Peiko, Bunin, Abeliovich, Vagner, Basner, Evlakhov, Levitin, Nikolayev, !

Robert
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Holger
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« Reply #2 on: October 31, 2020, 06:53:39 pm »

Yes, I was also very surprised to come across this new CD, there had not been any real signs of a Mosolov revival before. As for the number of the E Major symphony, the liner notes of the Northern Flowers disc do not provide any details on this question and I currently believe the symphony just has no number. There is a catalogue in the German wikipedia on Mosolov's symphonies which I compiled years ago from all information I could gather, but it's far from certain that all details are correct since information is so sparse. Until now, I would not even have dared to bet that these scores actually exist. In any case, the symphonies listed are as follows:

  • Symphony Op. 20 (1927/28, lost)
  • Antireligious Symphony (1931)
  • Symphony in E Major (1944)
  • Symphony No. 2 in C Major (1946)
  • Symphony No. 3 in B flat Major "Song Symphony" (1949/50)
  • Symphony in C Major (1959/60)
  • Symphony No. 4 in A Minor (1959/60)
  • Symphony No. 5 in E Minor (1965)
  • Symphony No. 6 (until 1973, unfinished)

So the E Major symphony could be No. 1, but that's not quite clear. There might also be some possibility that the C Major and the A Minor symphonies (No. 4) could coindice, but who knows for sure...

Anyway, the composers you suggest would certainly be fine choices! I know that there have been plans to do a Peiko cycle on Toccata Classics, but it's a matter of finances and things seem rather difficult alas.
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BrianA
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« Reply #3 on: November 01, 2020, 05:53:53 am »

I once, in a moment of uncharacteristic largesse, made a (small) donation to Tocatta.  Small or not, it made me bolid enough to suggest to Martin that either a Peiko or a Bunin symphonic cycle would be an undertaking I would be most eager to support.  I never heard anything further on either suggestion.   Sad

And I have to say, Holger, that now that you've made me aware of the existence of Mosolov's "Antireligious Symphony" I feel an overwhelming desire to hear it.   Grin

Brian
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Holger
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« Reply #4 on: November 01, 2020, 09:02:48 am »

Quite a while ago, maybe already ten years or so, I had a brief e-mail conversation with Martin Andernson where he mentioned his general interest in a cycle devoted to Peiko's orchestral works, however he also wrote that as always, it was a question of getting it financed. I am afraid things will not have changed meanwhile. Nevertheless, there might be some hope: Toccata have released a number of Soviet rarities in the past years, includig Peiko's piano music of course, but also some orchestral works by Shebalin, Weinberg and others, and they seem to be cooperating with Yuri Abdokov (who has been in charge of the liner notes for their latest Galynin CD, for instance), a pupil of Peiko and Boris Tchaikovsky. We will see.

Mosolov's "Antireligious Symphony" (a piece of 30 minutes with chorus, also labeled symphonic poem) has only recently been found in the archives of Soviet radio, it has been performed and apparently also recorded for the radio. Some information can be found here:
https://www.deutschlandfunk.de/russland-urauffuehrungen-des-komponisten-mossolow-sorgen.1993.de.html?dram:article_id=397308
A German article (if necessary, I can provide some details).

As for Robert's suggestions, I should think about my own preferences in more detail. I would certainly also nominate some composers from the republics, i.e. Central Asia and the Caucasus region. As for Levitin, I only recently found out that there has been a 2 LP set with two of his symphonies by Melodiya. I already told Mike Herman and it now appears in his online catalogue (however, it mislabels the unnumbered "Days of War" Symphony as No. 1). Unfortunately, these LPs seem totally elusive.

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Holger
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« Reply #5 on: November 01, 2020, 11:12:43 am »

Well, I did some more research on Mosolov and his symphonies and even if the picture does not fully clarify, a few more details have come up nevertheless. First, I realized that a while ago, Colin / Dundonnell also tried to compile a catalogue of Mosolov's orchestral music:
http://artmusic.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,1459.0.html
As the three different lists of the symphonies demonstrate, it's really very difficult. At present, I believe the one compiled by Northern Flowers to be most reliable. If so, we should maybe consider the E Major symphony they recorded as No. 1 (with some care, of course).

None of these catalogues lists the "Antireligious Symphony", but this is certainly because it was only recently rediscovered. Reading the description of the German radio website I linked above, it gradually dawned me that I may even have this piece. Checking things, I found out that indeed, there is a piece in my collection just labeled "Symphonic Poem on Words by Mayakovsky and Sharov for Soprano, Mezzo Soprano, Choir and Orchestra" from 1931 which has to be the "Antireligious Symphony", even more so since it is performed by the forces the article suggests (Orpheus RSO / Kondrashev). It happens to be available online:
https://classical-music-online.net/en/production/178581
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christopher
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« Reply #6 on: November 02, 2020, 05:38:40 pm »

Well, I did some more research on Mosolov and his symphonies and even if the picture does not fully clarify, a few more details have come up nevertheless. First, I realized that a while ago, Colin / Dundonnell also tried to compile a catalogue of Mosolov's orchestral music:
http://artmusic.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,1459.0.html
As the three different lists of the symphonies demonstrate, it's really very difficult. At present, I believe the one compiled by Northern Flowers to be most reliable. If so, we should maybe consider the E Major symphony they recorded as No. 1 (with some care, of course).

None of these catalogues lists the "Antireligious Symphony", but this is certainly because it was only recently rediscovered. Reading the description of the German radio website I linked above, it gradually dawned me that I may even have this piece. Checking things, I found out that indeed, there is a piece in my collection just labeled "Symphonic Poem on Words by Mayakovsky and Sharov for Soprano, Mezzo Soprano, Choir and Orchestra" from 1931 which has to be the "Antireligious Symphony", even more so since it is performed by the forces the article suggests (Orpheus RSO / Kondrashev). It happens to be available online:
https://classical-music-online.net/en/production/178581

It used to be on youtube but the link I have no longer works.
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der79sebas
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« Reply #7 on: November 06, 2020, 09:47:42 pm »

Here is the youtube link to Mosolov's "Symphonic Poem", which also in my opinion is indeed the "Antireligious Symphony":

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relm1
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« Reply #8 on: November 07, 2020, 01:02:51 am »

Here is the youtube link to Mosolov's "Symphonic Poem", which also in my opinion is indeed the "Antireligious Symphony":



Can anyone explain the very strange title?
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Holger
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« Reply #9 on: November 07, 2020, 07:59:15 am »

Can anyone explain the very strange title?

Paraphrasing the German article I linked above, the title is not that strange but actually quite describes what this work is above: in the beginning, a gathering of believers is described and a church service is begun, with some quotes of orthodox chants. However, after some time, it is disturbed by a second group of singers, calling for destruction. Sections of struggle (including fugal writing) follow, quoting revolutionary songs (the text mentions the Marseillaise, but if I recall correctly the Internationale and Whirlwinds of Danger / the Warszawianka are heard as well). Finally, both choirs join to celebrate the beginning of a new world without God. Of course, this has to be seen against the background of atheism being the Soviet "state religion", although at the same time it is worth noting that the piece was composed before Socialist Realism was established as the Soviet cultural doctrine. Probably it has to be seen as a late example of early Mosolov, continuing the line of his Iron Foundry and related works.
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relm1
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« Reply #10 on: November 07, 2020, 03:04:38 pm »

Can anyone explain the very strange title?

Paraphrasing the German article I linked above, the title is not that strange but actually quite describes what this work is above: in the beginning, a gathering of believers is described and a church service is begun, with some quotes of orthodox chants. However, after some time, it is disturbed by a second group of singers, calling for destruction. Sections of struggle (including fugal writing) follow, quoting revolutionary songs (the text mentions the Marseillaise, but if I recall correctly the Internationale and Whirlwinds of Danger / the Warszawianka are heard as well). Finally, both choirs join to celebrate the beginning of a new world without God. Of course, this has to be seen against the background of atheism being the Soviet "state religion", although at the same time it is worth noting that the piece was composed before Socialist Realism was established as the Soviet cultural doctrine. Probably it has to be seen as a late example of early Mosolov, continuing the line of his Iron Foundry and related works.

Fascinating.  Thanks.  I liked the music.  More of a choral symphonic poem than a symphony but it reminded me of Damien/The Omen scores in a concert suite.
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