JĀNIS IVANOVS (1906–83) - Symphony No. 15 “Symphonic ipsa”(symphony of itself) ; Symphony No. 16.
Catalogue Number: 03Y001
Reference: LMIC 126
Description: Given Ivanovs' status as arguably the greatest and certainly the most prolific Latvian symphonist of his generation, recordings of his powerful, cogently argued, tonal symphonic output have been frustratingly sporadic. Hopefully this ongoing series from Skani will redress this serious omission. Ivanovs has remained virtually unknown outside Latvia. The fifty-year isolation from normal cultural processes brought about by the Iron Curtain, the undisguised contempt for any kind of serious art in the dark decade following the Soviet occupation, and finally, the casual and arrogant attitude of a nation of many millions towards the cultural heritage of much smaller nations – all of that took its toll. These two symphonies are said to mark the beginning of a series of late scores which reflect the political atmosphere “during the decline of Leonid Brezhnev”. These four-movement works are products of the early 1970s. The music is serious in utterance, and each occupies an expansive canvas of just over thirty minutes duration. Ivanovs’ music evolved over the years from nationalist romanticism to a tougher expressive state; it is tonal, melodic and presents no difficulty to the moderately hardy, exploratory ear. The first movement of No. 15, Symphonia Ipsa (‘Symphony of Itself’) is grave and bleakly lyrical and that carries over to the more urgent second movement (Molto Allegro). The Molto Andante (III) gives way to a pounding high intensity Allegro Moderato. The Sixteenth Symphony from 1974 opens Moderato, progressing to Allegro Moderato. It is piercing and poignant music that seems to stab into the silence. It is a shade less sombre than the Fifteenth but equally grave. Its celebrations are assailed by doubt, anxiety and tension. The second movement (Allegro) taking to its heels with an attempt at a lively cheerfulness but this lighter sentiment is never unequivocal or unmixed. The Andante Pesante slow movement suggests to the listener a machine-like generator of anxiety while the sturdy finale (Allegro Moderato) is not short on forward motion. Latvian National Symphony Orchestra cond. Guntis Kuzma