performed by the USSR State Symphony Orchestra under Yevgeny Svetlanov
(This piece has been ‘revisited’ since I felt the article below to be inadequate. For the updated article, click here.)
Losing a post in progress is like Tumblr stealing a small part of my life. And infuriating.
This one is two movements, but that doesn’t mean it lacks length. Each movement is at or over 20 minutes, so it comes in at somewhere shy of 45 minutes.
As I’ve said before, I’m not super great at recognizing structure and key changes and all of that business, and it’s certainly harder when all of it is clumped into two giant movements.
Even when separate movements are played attaca, they are still often separate tracks on the computer. I suppose that’s like cheating, cuz I wouldn’t have that option in a live setting.
Anywho, I listened to this twice. The first time, I enjoyed the first movement, and kinda got lost from there until the beginning of the second movement which is strikingly different.
I didn’t look at any information about it until I was almost done with the second listen, and it helped clarify a few things.
The first movement begins nicely with low strings and stuff, kind of dramatically, and this theme builds through to a fanfare-ish bit mid-movement. The beginning material returns, slightly different (maybe? I am absolutely not an authority on this. Take none of what I say as fact) and the movement fades out rather quietly.
The second movement begins dramatically with a heavy, rhythmic fanfare, to which pizzicato strings and woodwinds answer. It moves into the rondo section of the piece, and then there’s a cool appearance made by bass clarinet and bassoon. I liked it. The bit that follows is more lyrical and somewhat ominous. Low voices accompanying high strings and the like. Even the explanation of the structure of this movement on Wikipedia I find to be confusing. It’s nice enough music to listen to, by again, it isn’t organized or broken off into nice manageable chunks to assist the structure-deaf listener.
There are recognizable bits from the first movement, and the second movement (or the first half of it) is definitely livelier. For the most part. Lots of weaving and combinations of themes here.
There comes a very quiet bass line, and higher strings join in before an oboe solo. The whole thing is kind of building momentum toward or wants to be a funeral march (Wiki refers to it as a “mourning march), but it never quite gets that momentum going. It is definitely mournful and tragic, especially when the horns join in. After that, we get chunks from the beginning returning bit by bit. There is a long, dramatic build out of the ‘march’ as the other material all returns.
But again, it dies down to cello (basses?) and they sing out a very low final chord as the piece fades out tragically.
This is definitely something I would have to give a few more listens to. Challenging, not to like, but appreciate and understand.