Sevitzky, Vol. 3 = HAYDN: Overture; Symphony No. 73 SGAMBATI: Vecchio Minuetto; KALLINIKOV: Sym. No. 1 – Indianapolis Sym. /Fabien Sevitzky – Historic-Recordings

by | Jul 5, 2011 | Classical Reissue Reviews | 0 comments

Sevitzky, Vol. 3 = HAYDN: L’Isola Disabitata–Overture; Symphony No. 73 in D Major “La Chasse”; SGAMBATI: Vecchio Minuetto; KALLINIKOV: Symphony No. 1 in G Minor – Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra/Fabien Sevitzky – Historic-Recordings HRCD 0062, 65:06 [] ****:
Volume 3 from Historic-Recordings dedicated to conductor Fabien Sevitzky (1893-1967) revitalizes shellac performances 1941-1945, including the ground-breaking inscription of Kallinikov’s G Minor Symphony (7 January 1941). Sevitzky made a point of programming and recording large and often ungainly works in the repertory–like Tchaikovsky’s Manfred Symphony–to demonstrate the power and response of his otherwise under-rated Indianapolis Symphony.
The program opens with Haydn’s 1779 sturm und drang Overture to The Desert Island, the composer’s tenth opera, of which only the overture seems to survive. Transferred by Damian Rogan, the original RCA shellacs convey a darkly lyrical piece, often stately in the manner of Gluck. The coda rather ferociously ends abruptly.  The 1782 Haydn Symphony No. 73 (8 February 1945) has been restored by Bill Anderson. It had a life on 45 rpm and the budget Bluebird LP series of RCAs (LBC 1062). The Indianapolis strings prove lustrous and flexible in the opening Allegro, with its four beat syncopes that turn an accompaniment into a main theme. The galant-style G Major Andante in 2/4–taken from one of Haydn’s own lieder–becomes a lyrical rondo. A suave verve-filled Menuetto and Trio ensue, plastic and attentive to the sudden alternations of orchestral thickness, almost in the style of a concerto grosso. The final Presto utilizes a standard “hunting” motif in bright colors, but the coda proves even more curious, dying away quietly and so akin to the so-called Farewell Symphony’s finale.
Sgambati’s D-flat Vecchio Minuetto exists as an independent piano piece, Op. 18, No. 2.
Sevitzky plays his own arrangement (8 February 1945) of this gavotte-like work which incorporates at first a flute part over cellos and the full string complement. The middle section adumbrates something of Berlioz’ Will o’ the Wisps from his Damnation of Faust.
Kalinnikov’s 1895 G Minor Symphony has provided the short-lived composer the dubious honor of a “singular success.” Nationalistic–in its use of the Czarist hymn–on its own terms, the symphony employs several cyclical strategies, interlocking themes from its four movements so that they recur in the finale. Its occasional “oriental” harmonies owe Borodin a debt. The sweeping melody in the first movement remains its huge selling point. Sevitzky moves the music along without undue sentimentality, an often virtuosic demonstration of orchestral ensemble, especially in the “academic,” contrapuntal passages. In the lugubrious episodes, the influence of Tchaikovsky prevails. The lovely second movement, in fact, seems to echo Tchaikovsky’s syntax in his “Winter Dreams” Symphony. A Borodin-influenced Scherzo features a series of “Arabian” arabesques in the strings and woodwinds worth of Grieg’s Anitra. Capitalizing on his big first movement melody, Kalinnikov aligns it with more “orientalisms” and contrapuntal treatment to secure its affect in our collective hearts. The aerial folk-song quality of the writing as well as the effective scoring hold much promise for this composer who died too soon to extend his singular potential. But at least in Sevitzky’s excellently restored reading we can all appreciate a devoted admirer.
— Gary Lemco

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