Symphony No. 1 in E flat major/Borodin (1833-1887)
July 26, 2011
Borodin was primarily a chemist and his composing was something he enjoyed doing in his spare time. As a result some of his material was not completed or in the case of his 1st Symphony it took five years to complete (1862-1867).
The work leaves no doubt as to its Russian heritage as the opening chords are a giveaway; dark and mysterious. The adagio leads the listener to an upbeat theme, backed by percussion. The development is slow and complete. Alexander was very detailed and the long period of time he spent is certainly evident. He was given help by Balakirev and while the initial offering was considered a failure upon revision it was given another premiere at the Russian Music Society and it was very well received. The scherzo is a lively one beginning with the strings offering the melody with the brass giving support. A second melody from the woodwinds, a delicate one, is developed before Borodin returns to the original theme. The third movement, his andante, is a beautiful romantic theme one to listen to when relaxing is the order of the moment. The finale is an allegro vivo filled with spirit and energy. The Borodin style of composition and orchestration is quite evident or I would say it could be German but his use of the brass and strings is a giveaway for this reviewer.
As far as 1st symphonies go this has to be considered an excellent effort better than most. The Seattle Symphony under the direction of Gerard Schwarz performs this to perfection. I’ve heard this work performed by many orchestras and this recording is at or near the top!
1…. Adagio-Allegro-Andantino (12:34)
2…. Scherzo: Prestissimo. Trio. : Allegro (6:54)
3…. Andante (7:45)
4…. Allegro molto vivo (7:11)
Total Time is 34:24