AIRAT ICHMOURATOV (b.1973): Symphony in A Minor, Op. 55 “On the Ruins of an Ancient Fort”, Youth Overture, Maslenitsa Overture.
Catalogue Number: 06V001
Reference: CHAN 20172
Description: Splendidly unabashed full-blooded neo-romantic works from a composer whose debut disc in this series (09V010) we welcomed as "works by a composer of considerable range and originality, working in a versatile and appealing tonal idiom." The large-scale symphony is laid out in traditional four-movement form, and depicts the history of Longueuil, a bustling modern city in the Tatarstan-born composer’s adopted home of Canada, that was founded around a 17th-century fort, demolished in 1810, on the ruins of which the city’s cathedral was built (as depicted in the commissioned artwork on the cover). The first movement, in modified sonata form, is heroic, beginning with the ominous rumbling of the war drums of the native Iroquois and then presenting a first subject reminiscent of the leaping motif that opens Shostakovich’s 5th Symphony. Conflict and diplomacy follow in the ensuing development, and a mysterious coda brings the movement full circle with distant, shadowy reminiscences of the turbulent opening. The second movement is a lively scherzo, with echoes of Prokofiev (and for a moment, hilariously, Khachaturian), and - probably coincidentally - something else of more ‘popular' provenance, suggesting the activity of a busy, thriving city. The Largo is reflective and dignified, with the warmth of a slow movement by one of the great 19th century Romantics. Originally intended as a portrayal of the founding of a religious order in Longueuil, it took on added gravity and pathos when the composer suffered the death of his mother while the movement was being composed. A jaunty march provides a brief episode of humorous relief before the noble sweep of the movement resumes. The finale begins with a dramatic flourish borrowed from Shostakovich’s 4th Symphony, which Ichmouratov has adopted as a kind of musical monogram in a number of works. The vigorous movement has little else in common with that terrifying symphonic monument, though, proceeding via the hunt, the circus, and memories of the symphony’s ominous opening and the nostalgic slow movement to a triumphant peroration and an energetic conclusion. The overtures are substantial pieces, full of excitement, verve and color, in a sequence of contrasting episodes. The 'Youth' overture is appropriately energetic and optimistic, its storms battled through and overcome, its tender moments relished. Maslenitsa is the carnival that precedes Lent. The opening portrays its religious overtones in music that reflects well known works by Tchaikovsky and Mussorgsky, and then breaks loose in a series of dances and festivities that prominently feature an obvious homage to Glinka's Ruslan and Lyudmila overture. Orchestre de la Francophonie; Jean-Philippe Tremblay.