Alexander Glazunov is known for many things: First, he was one of the most gifted musical prodigies in history, comparable to Korngold and Mendelssohn-Bartoldy. Glazunov started relatively late at the piano and composed his first piece at the age of 13. But his development was so rapid, that one of his teachers, Rimsky-Korsakoff mentioned that he “not learned by the day, but by the hour". His first symphony was written at the age of 16.
Second, Glazunov had one of the most amazing musical memories in history. Mozart could write Allegri’s 10 minute Miserere from memory, Glazunov is reported to write down a complete symphony from memory after just hearing it once. It came in handy when reconstructing Borodin’s Prince Igor after his death, Glazunov reconstructed it from memory, as the score was lost.
Third, Glazunov was one of the most notorious drinkers in musical history. He ruined the premiere of Sergei Rachmaninov’s first symphony, sending Sergei in a depression for three years. Dimitri Shostakovich, like Nathan Milstein one of Glazunov’s pupils, remembered that during classes Glazunov always had a bottle of alcohol with him, zipping secretly once in a while.
But fourth, Glazunov composed some seriously fine music!
In 1905 Glazunov became director of the St. Petersburg conservatory and composed his one and only violin concerto. For this occasion, he learned himself to play the violin in a couple of weeks.
The 1959 recording by Erica Morini and Ferenc Fricsay is a real collectors item on vinyl, and one of the finest recordings I know of this piece. Proof of Alexander’s early mastery are the 5 novelettes for string quintet, written at the age of 16. It’s gathered on a recording by the fine arts quartet with the string quintet from 1891. A cd that I owned for years and made many rounds in my cd player. Glazunov composed two piano recordings of which I like the first the most. The form is somewhat original, two movements of which the last is a set of (very fine!) variations. The pianist is the winner of the 2003 Queen Elisabeth competition Severin von Eckardstein.
Hope you will enjoy this playlist again!
Alexander Glazunov (1865-1936)
-Tracks 01-05 Concerto for violin and orchestra in a minor op 82 (1905)
Erica Morini, violin
Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra
Ferenc Fricsay, conductor
-Tracks 06-10 Five novelettes op 15 (1881)
-Tracks 11-14 String quintet in A major op 39 (1891)
Fine arts quartet
Ralph Evans, violin
Efim Boico, violin
Yuri Gandelsman, viola
Wolfgang Laufer, cello
Nathaniel Rosen, (added) cello
-Tracks 15-16 Concerto for Piano no 1 in F minor, Op. 92 (1910-11)
Severin von Eckardstein, piano
Belgian National Orchestra
Walter Weller, conductor