The Red Poppy (Complete Ballet)/Gliere

April 4, 2008


gliere-redpoppy.gifGliere, unlike Shostakovich and Prokofiev who were condemned for their work, Reinhold caused little or no controversy during his lifetime. He was honored by the Communist regime during the 20th century with the People’s Artist award in 1938 and was given nothing but official praise. While he is quite popular in Russia he is somewhat unknown throughout the rest of the world with his third symphony ‘Ilya Mourometz’, championed by Stokowski and also reduced in time by 1/2, being the most known of his works along with the “Red Sailors Dance” included in The Red Poppy.

The 1927 ballet is steeped in rich romantic melodies filled with pentatonic material for the Chinese element of the ballet. It is also filled with communism as it has the Communist anthem at the end when Tao-Hoa dies and hands a red flower to a small girl which symbolizes communism which will bring freedom to the oppressed and hope for a better world. Tao-Hoa’s theme which is a leitmotif is performed throughout and upon closer examination sounds more like a theme from the pen of George Gershwin! If one is familiar with his third symphony you can hear similiar chords in “Introduction-Scene in the Smoking Room” as well as “Tao-Hoa’s vision”. “Dance of the Soviet Sailors: Apple” or “Russian Sailor’s Dance” is one that is included on many Russian Favorite albums and is quite Russian in style and flavor. Written in syncopation it is a series of theme and variations. For those of you who haven’t heard it before it has the sound and the style of the Volga Boatmen, the difference is that it is much quicker paced. It very much has the sound of Russia. “Scene: Procession” has the Native American sound complete with the tom-tom percussion beat. One can imagine the gathering on the hill preparing to attack the wagon trains. “Charleston” is quite appropriate as a style of dance music considering the time frame. A little slower paced than an American counterpart it is still features saxophone and brass and one can picture the swaying of the hips and kicking of the legs.

Overall this 108+ minute score is a fine extremely varied score blending Russian romantic, Chinese pentatone, waltz, charleston, and other dance pieces. Not having a lot of experience with this work it is difficult to judge the performance of the St. Petersburg State Symphony Orchestra but the overall sound seemed perfectly acceptable to this reviewer. Even a (2) CD set from Naxos at approximately $15.00 is an excellent value and this composer and work are to be explored further. Recommended

Golden Score Rating is (***1/2)

Naxos # is 8.553496-7

Produced by Andrew Wheeler

Engineered by Seymon Shugal

Disc 1

Reinhold Gliere

The Red Poppy, Op. 70 (Complete Ballet)

St. Petersburg State Symphony Orchestra

Anichanov, Andre, Conductor

Act I – Introduction 00:02:22

Act I – Coolies’ Dance 00:02:10

Act I – Scene: Tao – Hoa’s Entrance 00:02:32

Act I – Restaurant 00:01:33

Act I – Malik’s Dance 00:03:32

Act I – Boston Waltz 00:02:46

Act I – Scene of European Dance – Captain’s Entrance and Sailor’s Dance 00:04:33

Act I – Tao – Hoa’s Scene 00:05:14

Act I – Variation with Gold Fingers 00:02:20

Act I – Coolies’ Victory Dance 00:03:36

Act I – Dance of the Soviet Sailors: Apple 00:03:35

Act II – Introduction – Scene in the Smoking Room 00:04:44

Act II – Scene 00:03:37

Act II – Dance of the Chinese Women 00:02:18

Act II – Adagio of Four Goddesses 00:03:59

Act II – Adagio 00:03:54

Disc 2

Reinhold Gliere

The Red Poppy, Op. 70 (Complete Ballet)

St. Petersburg State Symphony Orchestra

Anichanov, Andre, Conductor

Act II – Prelude 00:03:17

Act II – Tao – Hoa’s Vision 00:04:14

Act II – Scene: Procession 00:03:18

Act II – Sword Dance 00:02:10

Act II – Phoenix 00:02:22

Act II – Adagio 00:04:53

Act II – The Rose Ship 00:01:49

Act III – Charleston 00:02:50

Act III – Dance in the Restaurant 00:02:38

Act III – Preparation of the Chinese Theatre 00:02:07

Act III – Umbrella Dance 00:01:36

Act III – Puppet Dance 00:01:37

Act III – Chinese Acrobats’ Dance 00:02:05

Act III – Scene: The Conspiracy 00:03:33

Act III – Scene of Confusion 00:01:06

Act III – Captain’s Scene 00:03:03

Act III – Tao – Hoa’s Scene; the Departing Ship 00:02:09

Act III – Rebellion Scene 00:02:11

Act III – Tao – Hoa’s Death 00:05:54

Act III – Apotheosis 00:02:27

Total Playing Time: 01:48:04


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