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Glazunov: Symphonies Nos. 5 and 8. Alexander Anissimov, Moscow Symphony Orchestra. Naxos 8.553660.

Glazunov: Symphonies Nos. 5 and 8. Alexander Anissimov, Moscow Symphony Orchestra. Naxos 8.553660.

If the name Alexander Glazunov conjures up nothing more in your memory banks than the "Raymonda" and "The Seasons" ballets, you're probably not alone. He was one of those fine second-tier composers who are known today for only a couple of things although they composed enormous quantities of stuff. The budget Naxos label is seeking to make Glazunov's name better recognized through a series of orchestral recordings with the Moscow Symphony Orchestra.

The Eighth Symphony was Glazunov's last completed large-scale work, premiered in 1906. It is a big, typically Russian piece, weighty and momentous, and in part a little menacing. It's most interesting movements are its second and third. The slow second movement has a particularly lyrical and serene central portion that would charm a Cossack. The tumultuous third movement scherzo provides an ideal contrast to the preceding repose. But it's the Fifth Symphony I was most taken by. It may not display the same command of symphonic forces that the later Eighth does, but the Fifth has a wonderful combination of styles that range from Rimsky-Korsakov to Mendelssohn. At times you'd swear you were listening to one of Rimsky's colorful tone poems and at other times you'd think you were in one of Mendelssohn's enchanted fairy forests. It's really quite delightful.

The sound Naxos delivers here is among the best from this source. The Moscow Symphony is done up in splendid, natural sonics, with excellent orchestral bloom, reasonable depth of field, and no untoward prominence of any singe instruments. It is not the utmost in transparency nor is there much deep bass, but there is none of the soft, fuzzy, overly resonant acoustic we sometimes get from Moscow, either. The disc's low cost makes it easy for anyone to sample Glazunov's talents, the Moscow orchestra under Anissimov makes it easy to listen to, and the music takes care of itself in offering the differing sides of this fascinating composer.
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Title Annotation:Review
Author:Puccio, John
Publication:Sensible Sound
Article Type:Sound Recording Review
Date:Jun 1, 2001
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