Symphony No. 2 in B minor/Borodin
July 23, 2011
His second symphony in b minor took seven years to complete due to his work as a chemist and his opera Prince Igor. He started on it in 1869 and completed the symphony in 1876. It was published after his death with the assistance of Rimsky-Korsakov and Glazunov but to the best of my knowledge they had nothing to do with any changes. The opening eight note melody in the allegro makes it quite clear that this is a Russian nationalistic offering. Borodin said that the first movement represented a gathering of warriors. It offers a wonderful orchestration reminding one of his Prince Igor and clearly whatever European influence somewhat evident in the first symphony was clearly gone. The scherzo second movement is bright lively very up tempo and filled with energy. The slower middle section and again reminds you of something from the pages of the polovtsian dances. The andante is a thing of beauty first being offered by a horn followed by the woodwinds in a very lush romantic setting. The final movement, an allegro is fine material with the brass getting a bit of a workout. And the brass section of the Seattle Symphony is top drawer offering clear biting crisp notes.
The performance of the Seattle is first rate all the way. They truly understand how to play Russian material as well as their countrymen. This is an improvement over the 1989 Naxos (8.550238) recording which featured Gunzenhauser conducting the Bratislava Orchestra.
1…. Allegro-Animato assai-Poco meno mosso-Animato assai-Tempo I (6:59)
2…. Scherzo: Prestissimo-Allegretto Tempo I (5:31)
3…. Andante-Poco animato-Tempo I-attacca– (7:50)
4…. Finale: Allegro (6:19)
Total Time is 26:39