Friday 6 July 2012

Has Myaskovsky’s time come at last?

Nikolai Yakovlevich Myaskovsy (1881–1950) is probably one of the most neglected symphonists of the 20th century. Like so many Russian composers of that era, he at first started on a military career but, despite this, in 1903 he managed to undertake study in harmony with Glière. By the spring of 1907, Myaskovsky left the army and entered the St Petersburg Conservatory where he met Prokofiev who became a life-long friend.

By the summer of 1908 Myaskovsky had completed his first symphony, a form that would be his main source of expression for the rest of his life. He went on to write twenty seven symphonies as well as thirteen string quartets, nine piano sonatas, two cello sonatas, various orchestral works and choral works.

The symphonies had a long time becoming available on disc, with Olympia making the first attempt before they went out of business. The remaining Svetlanov recordings not issued by Olympia became available on the Alto label (available through Amazon   before Warner Classics  issued the whole cycle in a box

16 CDs
Perhaps Myaskovsky’s time has finally come as on Monday 9th July 2012 at 4.05pm BBC Radio 3 is broadcasting a performance by the BBC Symphony Orchestra of his Symphony No.13 in B flat major. Nothing particularly surprising in that you may say but the conductor is listed as no other than Oliver Knussen that champion of modern music.

I hope that this heralds more performances of his music and in particular the fabulous sixth symphony which is possibly his masterpiece.

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