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  Telarc -
  Popov: Symphony No. 1 - Botstein
  Popov: Symphony No. 1 Op. 7, Shostakovich: Theme & Variations Op. 3

London Symphony Orchestra
Leon Botstein (conductor)
Track listing:
  Classical - Orchestral
Recording type:
Recording info:

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Related titles: 2

Reviews: 2

Review by beardawgs January 14, 2005 (12 of 12 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
I had unique opportunity to be present at the recording sessions for this SACD last April at Watford Town Hall (north London), arguably one of the best recording venues not only in this country. That was my first encounter with this symphony (and any music by Gavril Popov for that matter), but at the time I was more concentrated on the recording process, microphone positioning and mixing. Now I can finally hear this gigantic piece in one go and it is magnificent.

The booklet provides a plethora of (mostly trivial) similarities of his and Shostakovich’s lives, but it also puts into perspective more important issue – this is the missing link between ‘formalistic’ Russian exiles Stravinsky and Prokofiev and what is to become a ‘proper’ music for revolutionary masses, cleverly disguised by not-so-rebellious and ever pragmatic Shostakovich. His 4th naturally comes first to mind, but while to my ears that symphony sounds more like a fashionable intellectual exercise, Popov has internal musical thought, development and logic on a larger scale, using dissonance without desire to shock, but an expressive tool. It is less sketchy than Sh’s 4th, Popov never hides his musical ideas behind humour and he is definitely not a cynic. This work is a bold and brave statement mirroring all social and cultural turmoil of the country going through the revolution and accordingly it reflects every important musical thought present in the western music of the era. Tempted as much as I am to look for Mahlerian, Schoenbergian or Stravinskian influences, it is a futile exercise – after spending a considerable amount of time with this symphony all those similarities are melted into a single pot, Popov’s symphony is a unique and finished piece of music.

More details about the recording itself are in the news section [/shownews.php?news=20], so I won’t waste any space in glorifying it even more. It is natural in depth and perspective, clear and transparent with preserved natural dynamics of the huge orchestra. Given that this is the only available recording, I can’t see how this one can be bettered in terms of orchestral playing and internal balance. London Symphony Orchestra is beyond praise, either in incredibly dense and loud passages of the first and third movement, or magnificent solo playing of the second.

And just a few thoughts on the filler – Shostakovich’s Theme and Variations op. 3, a school work never performed in his lifetime. It is a cute little exercise in formal development and orchestration, sounding most of the time like underdeveloped Brahms’ Haydn Variations with a few jokes. Shostakovich is yet discover his true voice, and this piece could have been written by anyone anywhere.

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Review by thepilot January 16, 2005 (4 of 5 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
Why has this wonderful symphony been so obscure, until today? This is a gigantic, demonically charged work of the utmost mastery. I hear traces of Mahler and Shostakovich, but it remains totally original from first to last note. And the Telarc recording, WOW! Talk about Watford Town Hall being one of the best recording locations available worldwide. Five stars for performance definitively, but for sound quality (having the LSO in you room, so real and palpable is the sound) I could give this sonic treat ten stars. Essential listening and the Shostakovich is done with exemplary mastery, wonderful orchestral execution, again with recorded sound of incredible richness, bloom, air and transparency.

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Works: 2  

Gavril Popov - Symphony No. 1, Op. 7
Dmitri Shostakovich - Theme & Variations, Op. 3