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From: Jeffrey Davis / e-mail / 29-03-2006 18:22:47
Nice post Blumenfeld! I agree with you. I am delighted to have just found a 1978 live concert CD of Symphony No 6 under Kondrashin (it can be found on the last page of the "Recordings" section on this website). I could only track a copy down through ebay. If it is anything like the 1959 Russian Disc recording it should be great. I shall play it in the next day or so and report my reactions in due course. Has anyone else out there heard this recording?
From: Blumenfeld / 29-03-2006 04:59:28
Some day it's the seventeenth, with its incredible lyrical "elan", even though it does not conclude with the smashing finale of a conventional symphony. Another day and it's Kondrashin's sixth which requires attention... no ambiance music here. And, then, Jeffrey, there is the twenty-seventh, a very fine expression of poetry by a dying man, because were are poets as long as we live. Or is it the unusual maturity of the first? In the final analysis, as one might say in academia, :>), the more Myaskovsky music one has access to, the greater variations one brings to the emotional range we experience on a monthly basis!
From: Malcolm J. Thomson. / e-mail / 28-03-2006 02:01:34
Blumenfeld in his latest message refers to "The Myaskovsky Sound" and he is absolutely correct, because this sound really does exist and is easily recognized by those fortunate enough to have listened to enough of Myaskovsky's compositions. I believe that a large part of this sound, especially in his beautifully emotional themes, is produced by his employing a lengthening of many of the individual notes, which allow the listener to completely savor the "whole body" of the note itself and then when these single notes are combined with others, each having the same effect, the result is a beautiful and rich harmony forming the Myaskovsky Sound. It is also the reason I believe that his compositions stand alone. Certainly there are other composers whose "style" is similar and whose works I greatly admire, however, when I compare theirs with Myaskovsky I find that his Sound is uniquely superior.
From: Jeffrey Davis / e-mail / 27-03-2006 15:58:03
I do have a soft spot for Symphony 12, especially the opening movement as it contains, a minute or so in, one of those entirely (in my view) soulful, melancholy and characteristic Miaskovsky themes which stay with you long after the movement has ended. I admit that the rest of the symphony is not as successful but that theme does come back to gently haunt me. Perhaps the theme which enters a few minutes into Symphony 25 is the greatest of such Miaskovsky themes but I am all too aware of the subjectivity of these remarks. Still, after the other comments I felt that I should justify the inclusion of Symphony 12 in my "favourites" list.
Malcolm has explained with much greater clarity than I could the appeal of Miaskovsky's music. The Symphony 27 is one of his finest and most moving works. The slow movement is his most beautiful, in my view, and especially poignant in view of the fact that Miaskovsky was dying of cancer and had just had his music condemned in the appalling 1948 Zhdanov speech. In the last movement, I have always felt that the dying composer, knowing that he would not be there to see it, looks forward to the onward rush of Spring after the end of Winter.
Unfortunately Svetlanov's recording was never issued in the UK before the very sad disappearance of Olympia records although I was delighted to find, second-hand a very early Olympia CD release (1987) of Symphony 27 with Svetlanov conducting the USSR Academic Symphony Orchestra, coupled with the Sinfonietta (OCD 168) a great performane. I hope that, one day, Gauk's performance might be issued on CD too.
From: Blumenfeld / 25-03-2006 16:44:05
Dear Malcolm: You have expressed my own thoughts very eloquently. There are some composers I listen to with the intention "to think about" their music. M. Weinberg is currently the composer I play most often when I am in that mood. But Myaskovsky is very much a source of emotional satisfaction, as you suggest. His tonal quality, to be sure, along with the melodiousness of most of his works which is often rendered all the more salient by the creative manner he alternates and combines and, at times, juxtaposes melodic themes (such as the folk-based themes of the fifth symphony). I would also like to suggest that he is realistic in his expression of the human affective experience. (Contrary to what Zhdanov and company might have said). Moments of "dark shadows" are followed by the brilliant light of hope, if not of triumph; introversion is the emotional mate of his more overt musical expression; there could not exist heartfelt joy without the resolution of difficulty, without overcoming adversity. Furthermore, Myaskovsky stimulates my senses and holds my attention with his rhythmic inventiveness, introduced at times almost in declension, without warning.
All in all, though, it is, as you say, a personal issue of quality of life. The Myaskovsky "sound", however subjective this may serve as an explanation, is existentially replenishing, it is "soul music" (no pun intended) whether it is communicated via the cello, the piano, four string instruments, a chamber orchestra, or a symphony orchestra. Perhaps this is what is meant when one speaks of his lesser success, such as with symphony no.12, namely that we do not recognize the existential attributes of the Myaskovsky sound. And, like Joop, I also confess that the twelfth symphony is more a work I would listen "to think about" than to replenish both my heart and mind.
From: Malcolm J. Thomson / e-mail / 24-03-2006 22:59:50
While we are discussing our favourite Myaskovsky compositions I think it might be interesting to explain just what it is about his music that we each individually find to be compellingly attractive. In my own case the foremost appeal lies in the tonal quality which has a marked effect upon my senses and acts as a significant source for creating a feeling of relaxation or emotional zeal. In other words his music simple makes me feel good, thus improving my quality of life. In addition to the tonal quality I thoroughly enjoy what I call "the flow" of his music which I often find to have a steady pace, like a slowly moving river traveling through a rich and beautiful musical landscape, producing a wonderful harmony between the music itself and the listener. His music is not for me something to sit and think about, rather it is a means of becoming immersed in something of extreme beauty, rich and sensual, an experience of Romanticism that I find both alluring and enriching. I know that without the pleasure of being able to listen to his music I would be missing an important contribution to my happiness. Finally, I greatly admire his ability to create themes that for me combine the correct notes to form memorable and lovely musical passages, masterfully orchestrated, enhancing the entire work and leaving me in a state of high emotional response.
From: Jeffrey Davis / e-mail / 24-03-2006 15:56:47
Thanks for the replies. For some reason I have never warmed as much to Symphony 5 as some others but I know that it is very highly regarded. Maybe it is a bit too cheerful for me as I prefer the dark gloomy compositions! I shall listen to it again in the next day or so (it is coupled with Symphony 11 on an excellent Olympia CD). I clearly need to explore the String Quartets and Piano Sonatas. Thanks again.
From: Joop (NL) / 24-03-2006 15:48:26
Did I say "loath" in my previous message? Strong language, err... I'd rather say: I dislike symphony #12...
From: Joop (NL) / 24-03-2006 14:03:45
Since String Quartet #12 and Symphony #5 were the very first Myaskovsky compositons I ever came across, way back in the 80s, they have a special place in my heart.
But - I hesitate to come forward with this in this forum of Myaskovsky aficionados - I loath Symphony #12. One of his most embarrassing failures. Now... shoot me...
From: Georgy / e-mail / 24-03-2006 11:03:25
And what about the 5th symphony? In 1920s that was the most popular Myaskovsky's work....
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