Symphony No. 2 in C Minor, Op. 25/Red Poppy Ballet Suite, Op. 70/Gliere

July 5, 2011

Even today with the huge catalog of material available to the public, Classic Online offering nearly 46,000 CD’s alone; Gliere is somewhat of an unknown outside of Russia. He followed Tchaikovsky and Rimsky-Korsakov both considered inventors of the Russian sound, both masters of melody and orchestration, and both extremely popular today so much so that the heavy Russian sound of Gliere has taken a back seat. The facts that Gliere composed under the influence of the Communists and was quite content with producing material that they approved of are all factors. Hopefully, this CD will change your mind and Gliere will become a part of your library.

The C Minor 2nd Symphony was composed in 1908 and has the traditional four movements beginning with a heavy stoic theme ever moving slowly forward. The strings supply a swirling background as the theme is allowed to develop. The pace quickens almost agitated while the theme is developed further, the brass making a statement. The movement ends on a very quiet note. The second movement is a pretty uplifting scherzo with bright strings before a horn gives us the Romeo and Juliet romantic theme. The strings offer a counterpoint with harmony from the woodwinds. The third movement begins with the oboe offering a melancholy theme which gives way to a more upbeat tempo and a second theme quite spritely in nature. The final movement is an allegro vivace with the string section offering the melody with harmony provided by the brass. A mysterious oboe gives it an air of oriental flavor. Borodin was in the back of his mind when he composed this movement as there is definitely an influence.

The Red Poppy Ballet Suite, Op. 70, is a suite of material taken from his 100+ minute ballet first performed in 1927. Because of the name it was later changed from poppy to flower and even though the second act takes place in an opium den the government didn’t want opium to be associated with communism, thus the change. The 27 minute suite is a highlight of the wonderful melodies including his extremely popular interpretation of “Yablochko,” a track that appears on many Russian favorites compilation recordings. “Heroic Coolie Dance” is a brass flavored delight with a hint of orientalism and offers all of the color that Gliere could conjure up; very much like Rimsky-Korsakov. “Scene and Dance” is a delicate romantic theme played quite nicely by the New Jersey string section. The second part a dance is a wonderful oriental one performed by the woodwinds and strings. One could be reminded of Nutcracker very easily. “Chinese Dance” is a lively one offering percussion. “Phoenix is yearning solo violin featured track that is thought provoking. It could easily have been a movement in a violin concerto. “Valse” is a traditional waltz with a very easy to remember hummable melody. “Russian Sailors’ Dance” is impossible not to recognize its Russian flavor. Stoic and solemn it builds to a rousing climax. Listed below are where the tracks in the suite came from in the ballet.

1…. “Heroic Coolie Dance” is the “Coolies Victory Dance”

2…. “Scene and Dance” consists of ‘The Rose Ship” plus “Variation with Gold Fingers”

3…. “Chinese Dance” is “Dance of the Chinese Woman”

4…. “Phoenix” is “Phoenix”

5…. “Valse is “Boston Waltz”

6…. “Russian Sailors Dance” is “Dance of the Soviet Sailors”

If you want to explore this suite further Naxos (8.553496-7) offers a 2 CD set of the complete ballet.

The playing, conducting, and recording add to the experience of this fine material from Gliere. Make this a part of your library and you won’t be


Delos CD# is DE3178D

Zdenek Macal conducts the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra

Track Listing:

1…. Allegro Pesante (13:28)

2…. Allegro Giocoso (7:19)

3…. Andante Con Variazioni (13:32)

4…. Allegro Vivace (11:32)

5…. Heroic Coolie Dance (4:01)

6…. Scene and Dance (8:21)

7…. Chinese Dance (2:02)

8…. Phoenix (6:21)

9…. Valse (2:24)

10… Russian Sailors’ Dance (3:50)

Total Time is 72:50

Tracks 1-4 are Symphony No. 2. Tracks 5-10 are Red Poppy Ballet Suite.


2 Responses to “Symphony No. 2 in C Minor, Op. 25/Red Poppy Ballet Suite, Op. 70/Gliere”

  1. […] blog “Film Music: The Neglected Art” has published another grand review of a “Delos Recording of the Month.” This […]

  2. w.bender Says:

    The best music I have ever heard. The magic bow was album
    that had a just one part of this great work. I have screached to find the entire symphony. I did find the complete works and have loved it evenmore!


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