GLAZUNOV: Sym. 4 & 5; Seasons ballet (excerpts) – Praga Digitals

Why stereo SACD for such poor Soviet recordings, when standard CD would have been fine?

GLAZUNOV: Sym. 4 & 5; Seasons ballet (excerpts) – Praga Digitals stereo-only hi-res SACD PRD/DSD 350 129, 79:23 (11/4/16) [Distr. by Naxos] ***:

While these are truly great performances conducted by the great Mravinsky, these original Soviet recordings date from 1948 thru 1969 and are uniformly terrible, as most Russian recordings of this period are. Praga Digitals seem to have mostly given up on their SACDs of great past performances and are releasing them generally on standard CD, so why this one is on SACD I do not know.

Glazunov was a rather conservative Russian composer, music teacher and conductor. He was director of the St. Petersburg Conservatory from 1905-1928, and Shostakovich was his most famous student. These are certainly fine performances of the two symphonies, but the poor sound is a strong vote against them.  Mravinsky opted to conduct the conservative Glazunov works, but he preferred to do “banned works” such as those by Prokofiev and the young Stravinsky. The full subtitle of the album is “Tribute to Glazunov in his Native St. Petersburg During the Soviet Period.”

The Seasons ballet of 1900 is one of my personal favorites, and it was nice to hear the closing 16 minutes of excerpts from it on this disc.

—John Sunier

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