Rachmaninoff Symphony no. 1 in D minor, op. 13

performed live by (again) the USSR Ministry of Culture Symphony Orchestra under Gennady Rozhdestvensky, or in a very nice performance below by the Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra (perhaps before they were ‘Royal’?) under Vladimir Ashkenazy This, this other terrible first. The … Continue reading Rachmaninoff Symphony no. 1 in D minor, op. 13

Anton Rubinstein: Symphony No. 2, ‘Ocean’

performed by the Russian State Symphony Orchestra under Igor Golovschin

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. 

Sort of. I knew I had been preparing no. 5, but I chose it based on its success as a symphony of Anton Rubinstein that wasn’t his first, but still fell within the timeline we’ll be laying out with these works. Well, it turns out it was written decades after some of the other works on our list, so in the interest of chronological order, we jumped back a few symphonies to his second, subtitled ‘Ocean’. We will eventually get around to the fifth, but not any time soon, I don’t think.
We chatted a bit yesterday about Rubinstein’s background and his… position in the classical music scene in Russia, and it will become more significant after next week’s articles, but this work can be viewed perhaps as a representation of a Germanic Russian in Russia before things start to get really nationalistic and really Russian.
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.

Continue reading “Anton Rubinstein: Symphony No. 2, ‘Ocean’”

Influential People: Anton Rubinstein

I started including this information in tomorrow’s music post, but it got a little long, so I decided I’d make it a separate thing ahead of the discussion of the first work in our Russian symphony series. 

Rubinstein on the podium as portrayed by Ilya Repin.
In great contrast with the piece we’ll be discussing next week, Rubinstein was quite a Continue reading “Influential People: Anton Rubinstein”