Recording of the Week – The Complete Symphonies of Glazunov

Alexander Glazunov  (1865 – 1936)is a transitional figure in Russian music coming between between the lush romanticism of Tchaikovsky and the more spare and edgy music of Stravinsky, Prokofiev, and Shostakovitch. His eight symphonies show considerable growth in style and fluency.

In addition to his compositions he was the director of the Saint Petersburg Conservatory where he taught Dimitri Shostakovitch. He was also well known as a conductor. His drinking was notorious. He conducted the disastrous premiere of Rachmaninoff’s  first symphony apparently while drunk. Rachmaninoff was so depressed by his symphony’s failure that he stopped composing for several years and sought professional help.

Amazon has all eight of Glazunov’s symphonies for sale as an MP3 download for only $5. In fact, if you recently downloaded some music from Amazon you likely received a promotion code good for $5 off your next download. If so, you can get all eight of the symphonies for nothing.

Amazon encodes their MP3 files at 256 kbs/sec – twice the rate of Itunes files. Thus, the sound is much better. It’s good enough to burn Amazon’s MP3s to CDs and then play through a high quality music system if your computer’s speakers and sound card are weak.

The performance of these eight works by Vladimir Fedoseyev  conducting the Moscow radio Symphony Orchestra (now the Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra) is idiomatic and insightful. At this price purchasing these symphonies is a no brainer. Highly recommended.

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