Bortkiewicz: Symphonies Nos. 1 & 2 Import
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This CD provides a sampling of the composer's finest and most significant works, his two symphonies. These amply demonstrate his considerable compositional skills, as well as his Russian Nationalist tendencies. The symphonies are also a testament to the intense nostalgia and homesickness resulting from his self-imposed exile.
To best understand Bortkiewicz one should look to the Russian Nationalist group. The group was founded by Balakirev, and included Borodin, Rimsky-Korsakov, and Tchaikovsky. (Mussorgsky and Cui were also members of this group, but wrote little symphonic music.) The ideals of the group were carried forward in the next generation by Lyapunov, Kalinnikov, Rachmaninov and Bortkiewicz. The Finish composer Sibelius also belongs to this group - at least as far as his early compositions, and before he developed his own Finish nationalistic style. A primary objective of this group was to develop a uniquely Russian (or at least non-German) style of symphonic music.Read more ›
But even back home he was treated with disdain in Russia because he was looked upon as a wealthy bourgeois (he came from a wealthy family). And when he returned to his estate in Kharkiv (or Kharkov) in the Ukraine after the First World War, his hopes for a better life vanished: the Soviets destroyed his family estate & the composer and his wife settled in Constantinople (Turkey). But he missed the cultures of Europe & decided to move with his wife to Vienna. After living in Paris for six months, they settled in Berlin for close to five years. The Nazi forces, however, continued to show disdain for anything and anyone Russian & expelled them from Germany.Read more ›
If you're the sort of listener who loves to wallow in Tchaikovsky or Rachmaninov (and who doesn't?) then you'll probably enjoy this disc. Bortkiewicz is an unjustifiably obscure composer and his music (on this disc especially) is extremely well-written and engaging with suitable blendings of old style Russian pathos, grandeur, and excitement. At times it may sound like Tchaikovsky but one gets the impression, after a listen or two, that those moments are conscious allusions and not due to lack of originality. There's much to enjoy--the finale of No. 1 is a hoot.
The comment has been made, perhaps too often, that he composed as if forty or so years of music never happened. To be fair, he wasn't really that much of a dinosaur and his music often fits in well with that of other traditionalists of his time like Kurt Atterberg and Randall Thompson. There are even almost jazzy elements here and there. I think we tend to oversimplify the trends of that century; a lot went on simultaneously at varying speeds.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Fascinating piece of music by a composer few people have ever heard of. Keeps one with a smile on their face until the last chords have sounded.Published 22 months ago by George Trowbridge
If you are looking for an individual voice you will have to look elsewhere. Both symphonies were composed well into the twentieth century, but doesn't for a second venture beyond... Read morePublished on September 17, 2010 by G.D.