Friday, 20 February 2009

Discovering Glazunov - Serebrier

When I was young, Glazunov and early Russians were often played by leaden Soviet era orchestras, dutifully earnest and plodding. So I was completely taken by surprise when I started listening to the series of Glazunov symphonies recorded over the last few years by José Serebrier and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. Not my thing, I thought, but listened, and discovered how much fun they could be. Serebrier thinks the symphonies anew. It’s like scrubbing stale varnish off a piece of furniture, to find the rich wood beneath.

This Glazunov is vivacious, fluid and witty! Currently I’m listening to Symphony No 6, a recording which has been nominated for the 2009 Grammy awards, and raved about by lots of different people, some of whom don’t usually agree. It isn’t easy for me to write about repertoire I don’t know well, but this is great fun. These recordings prove yet again how important thoughtful performance can be, not "going through the motions" but expressing genuine enthusiasm for the music. I love listening to these recordings because they fill my heart. Which is as good a recommendation as any in these difficult times.

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