Symphony No. 22 in B Minor Op. 54 ‘Symphonic Ballad’/Myaskovsky

November 11, 2010

Tagged with the label,  “Father of the Soviet symphony,’ Myaskovsky,

with the exception of his 21st symphony, a work performed by the Chicago Symphony, has gone unnoticed in the concert halls of America. Had it not been for my keen interest in Poe and his poem “The Raven” and the work Silence, Op. 9, loosely based on the poem, I might have never discovered him.


Once I did discover the modern 20th century symphonist my purchases became more frequent and I have come to appreciate his fine talent. Part of a 10 CD set from Brilliant Classics (9001), discontinued by manufacturer but available at a bargain price of only $20.00 from Berkshire Outlet, this symphony coupled with his 25th symphony is well worth the closeout pricing alone. As of November 10th, the time of this review, the company had adequate stock.


Written in a favorite key of B Minor the introduction immediately brought back the strains of the Schubert Unfinished and the Pathetique from Tchaikovsky. Written in three movements without a break he gave each a title. “Peaceful life, overshadowed occasionally by threats,” “Harkening to the Horrors of War,” and finally “And the enemy trembled…”. Premiered in January of 1942 the work was subtitled About the Patriotic War of 1941. While it has moments of despair and a gloomy outlook especially from the oboe, the strings and brass break through and give brightness and hope to the piece. While the work makes casual references to both Schubert and Tchaikovsky it has that distinct flavor and style of Myaskovsky and the 36+ minutes passed very quickly. This is a work that is filled with melody and fullness typical of many of his works. The third section is vintage Myaskovsky complete with the brass statements and his use of counterpoint.


Svetlanov and the USSR Symphony are masters when it comes to performing their countries music. It is extremely evident on this recording in particular. The sound advertised as mono is really stereo having been recorded in 1970. The digital transfer has eliminated that somewhat gritty annoying brass as I suspect that this performance was originally released on the Meloydia label. The engineering has somewhat toned this down without compromising dynamic range.


If you enjoy your listening somewhat dark but still very melodic this would be an excellent choice. And if you like this offering you get nine additional CD’s offering a wide range of material spanning 100 years. Recommended


Track Listing:

1…. Lento. Allegro non troppo- Andante con duolo-Allegro energico, ma non troppo vivo (36:35).


Brilliant Classics 9001


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