N. MyaskovskyN. Myaskovsky


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30.11.2005. Gennady Rozhdestvensky conducts...

Moscow Conservatory Grand Hall
Abonement No. 9

Gennady Rozhdestvensky conducts
"Great Russian composers of the XX century. Those seven"

WASSENAER Concerto-grosso No.2 (First performance in Russia)

MYASKOVSKY Symphony No. 7

STRAVINSKY "Pulcinella» - ballet music with song

State Symphony Capella of Russia
Art Director and Conductor - Valery Polyansky

Olga Lutsiv-Ternovska, soprano
Oleg Dolgov, tenor
Andrey Baturkin, bariton



Gennady Rozhdestvensky

The ideas for the Seventh Symphony in C minor, opus 24, first came to Nikolai Myaskovsky in 1921. He completed the composition in December 1922 and the instrumentation in 1923. It was first performed in Moscow on 8 February 1925, with K.S. Saradjiev conducting.

The composer dedicated the Seventh Symphony to his closest friend, the musicologist, Pavel Alexandrovich Lamm. Lamm performed transcriptions for eight hand dual pianos of all 27 of Myaskovsky’s symphonies. Beginning in 1922, every Wednesday in the hospitable apartment of Lamm what was called the “Eight-handed group” would get together and for more than 30 years would play a huge amount of compositions, but especially those of Myaskovsky and other Soviet composers. Also they performed the ‘classics’ of Haydn, Mozart, Weber, and Brahms. As this series of evenings got going, this “eight-handed ensemble” came to be known as the “Lammsymphans” in a similar style to the name of the contemporary orchestra “Persymphans”, a large orchestra which performed without a conductor. Initially the participants were Myaskovsky, Lamm, Vessarion Shebalin, and A.N. Aleksandrov. Later others joined in the Lammsymphans evenings, including the composer N.I. Peiko, and students of the conservatory, including yours truly. I especially remember the performance of Shostakovich’s Fourth Symphony which was painstakingly and thoroughly rehearsed by the conductor Boris Yegorov. This was my first acquaintance with the masterpieces of Shostakovich.

Myaskovsky was extremely exacting about his own compositions. While working on his Seventh Symphony he wrote to Boris V. Asafiev: “I have completed the orchestration of the Seventh and am disappointed in it – the word clumsy can be used”. He wrote to Prokofiev however: “As for the Seventh, even though it is not being taken up, I am afraid for it. I think, that after its performance, there will be a lot of re-working on it, however, substantially, there are absolutely no plans that it will be performed. So what is new in it? A certain freedom of forms, conciseness of exposition, and finally, in places a disconnection from the bass register and the general background – so that the symphony in places very pleasantly hangs in the air. But these are exclusively my achievements which are important for me – but in general what is new about this symphony, if you please, is only its character, because no one could notice here any influences or borrowings nor any outside quotations or the like.”

The Seventh Symphony is not grand in scale (it is 20 minutes in its entirety). It comprises two movements. For its first exposition there is played a pastoral horn theme, which the composer heard in 1912 in the small hamlet of Batovo near Moscow. This theme appears throughout as a characteristic leit motiv of the symphony into the second movement which perhaps merges the slow, lyrical part of the symphony and the scherzo. The symphony’s character is most like a romantic poem. Boris Asafiev wrote on Myaskovsky’s style: “The line of Myaskovsky’s symphonism-- with only slight deviation and borrowings from the field of the Russian symphony of the Borodin-Balakiriev-Glazunov style and from the lyricism of Rimski-Korsakov and Lyadov—runs through that of Beethoven and Tchaikovsky. The subconscious emotionalism of Myaskovsky’s symphonism contains a more profound layer which now and then lets one feel the pessismistic traces of Mussorgsky.”

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