ALEXANDER GLAZUNOV (1865-1936): Piano Sonatas No. 1 in B Flat Minor, Op. 74 and No. 2 in C Minor, Op. 75, Grand Concert Waltz in E Flat, Op. 41, Variations on a Finnish Folksong, Op. 72, 3 Pieces, Op. 49, 3 √Čtudes, Op. 31, Prelude and Fugue in D Minor, Op. 62, 2 Pieces, Op. 22. Original Pearl LP (1978) and CD (1987) releases. First CD release of LP items.

Catalogue Number: 01X037

Label: Heritage

Reference: HTGCD 154/5

Format: CD reissue

Price: $28.98

Description: Glazunov is far from being as neglected on disc now as he was when these enterprising recordings were made in 1976, but their big-hearted, bravura, sensitive and delicate performances hold their own admirably against more recent issues and are very welcome back to the catalogue. Glazunov's piano music was hardly forward-looking for the time when it was written - the turn of the 20th century - but its unfailingly characterful, meticulously crafted romanticism, full of melodic and harmonic richness, is immensely attractive. The splendid sonatas were written in consecutive years, and form a complementary pair. The First is full-bloodedly Romantic, making exemplary and original use of traditional forms - a textbook example of the effective use of sonata form for dramatic effect, a delicious variation movement, and an exhilarating rondo. The Second seems to look forward (from its conservative viewpoint) just as the first looks back; in its more wayward harmony and rhapsodic piano textures one can see where the beginnings of Russian modernism - Catoire, Feinberg et al. - were starting to take root. A dramatic first movement is followed by a fiendishly difficult, sparkling, balletic scherzo and a big, colourful finale, robust and extrovert, with a central fugue and a coda evoking the distinctive sounds of Russian church music and pealing bells. The other major work - Glazunov's largest for piano apart from the sonatas - is the exceedingly fine set of 15 variations, which begins modestly with ornamentation of a wistful little theme and gradually grows more ambitious and pianistically demanding, with increasingly extended elaborations of the theme in variations of almost orchestral texture and weight. The shorter pieces are all extremely attractive, with a few surprises such as the Caprice-Impromptu, a virtuoso, chromatic study of far greater moment than its companions, and the Prelude and Fugue, an impressive work of substantial scale, with a grand and noble prelude and a meticulously worked fugue which accumulates three weighty organo pieno climaxes on the way to its calm and gentle conclusion. The other works are in some cases suited to the concert stage, in others to the salons of Imperial Russia, but all provide most enjoyable listening. 2 CDs. Leslie Howard (piano).

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