performed (again) by the Russian State Symphony Orchestra under Igor Golovschin I have to say with this symphony that, while I don’t care much for the man who wrote it (after preparing this week’s article on him), of the first … Continue reading Mily Balakirev: Symphony no. 1 in C major,
The Russian Symphony Part 1
So I started writing about the piece we will talk about today, and then I realized I’d listened to and wrote about the wrong symphony.
The second symphony from this Russian composer doesn’t feel terribly Russian or Symphonic. Perhaps in a world before Debussy’s La Mer, this piece would feel less like a large-scale tone poem, something it seemed to lean toward as the composer worked on the piece later.
Despite Liszt’s lack of willingness to give aid to the young, poor Rubinstein, the symphony bears a dedication to Liszt. Its first performance was on March 6, 1852, and the American Symphony program notes state:
… it won the favor of audiences with its magnificent trumpet calls, swirling melodies, and solid structure. The ocean, according to Rubinstein, is depicted in the contrasts between the agitated and peaceful passages, the deep lyricism of the second movement, and the heroic chorale at the end of the fourth movement, when man’s spirit gains domination over the power of the ocean.