Lepo Sumera (8 May 1950 – 2 June 2000) was an Estonian composer and teacher. Considered one of Estonia's most renowned composers along with Heino Eller, Eduard Tubin and Arvo Pärt, he was also his country's Minister of Culture from 1988 to 1992 during the days of the Singing Revolution…
Rachmaninov was a matchless pianist, and it was as such that he acquired his international reputation; this should not, however, blind us to his astonishing achievements as orchestrator and symphonist. His three symphonies, whose principal source of inspiration is the tendency to nostalgia of the Slavonic soul, are among his most endearing works. They also reveal an anguished, introverted personality.
The Symphony No.l in D minor, Op.13, was a resounding flop at its first performance in 1897 in St Petersburg. Cesar Cui wrote a fiercely critical review of it, and the failure left the 24-year-old Rachmaninov utterly demoralized. This four-movement symphony, which explores a vast gamut of fee-lings, is complex both in its rhythms (Cui did not like its broken rhythms, and also denounced the loo-seness of its form) and in its orchestration. The work is cyclic, based on a gruppetto motif and phrases from the mediaeval Dies irae; the latter dominates the Allegro та поп troppo, which is followed by a scherzo with an aura of fantasy, a Larghetto slow movement of fairy-tale simplicity, and a finale marked by forthright harmonies and quite forceful instrumentation.
David Hurwitz on Symphony No. 3 & Symphonic Dances
One of the great Rachmaninov recordings ever made, these accounts of the Third Symphony and Symphonic Dances by Mariss Jansons and the St. Petersburg Philharmonic recall the heady days of Mravinsky and the (then-named) Leningraders at their finest–only in top-quality sound. The whiplash strings in the second movement of the Symphonic Dances, hair-trigger discipline in the same work's outer movements, and the razor-sharp modernity that Jansons brings to the Third Symphony all combine to make this reissue irresistible. There are too many memorable moments to list here, but the central section of the Third Symphony's slow movement, full of mordant wit, and the rhythmically thrilling ending of the Symphonic Dances come immediately to mind. If you missed this issue the first time, don't let it pass by again. It belongs in every serious record collection. [5/7/2004]
Conductor Philippe Herreweghe returns to the helm of the Royal Flemish Philharmonic for another set of Beethoven symphonies on the PentaTone label, this time the First and Third. Again presented as a multi-channel SACD hybrid disc, PentaTone's sound is clean and detailed without too much digital sterility. Unlike the album that included the Fifth Symphony and was fraught with many rhythmic peculiarities, Herreweghe's reading of the First and Third symphonies seems diligently respectful to every nuance of the score…
As a composer of orchestral music, Alexander Scriabin is best known for his last two idiosyncratic symphonies, the Poem of Ecstasy and Prometheus: The Poem of Fire, which are essentially symphonic poems, not symphonies in the conventional sense. The Symphony No. 1 (1900) and the Symphony No. 2 (1901), however, are more recognizable as symphonies in their multiple-movement forms, and their durations are comparable to the expansive symphonies of Scriabin's contemporary, Gustav Mahler. They also share the post-Romantic tendency toward Wagnerian harmonies, rhapsodic melodies, and lush orchestration, which, in Scriabin's case, were developed to express heightened emotional states and mystical transcendence. This 2016 double SACD by Valery Gergiev and the London Symphony Orchestra presents each of the symphonies on its own disc, and the high-quality multichannel sound is ideal for bringing across the subtle nuances of tone color and the shifting of dynamics that are characteristic of his style.]
In this first volume of Alexander Scriabin's symphonies on the LSO Live label, Valery Gergiev and the London Symphony Orchestra begin in media res with the Symphony No. 3, "Le Divin Poème," and the Le Poème de l'extase, which is unofficially counted as the Symphony No. 4. These works date from Scriabin's middle period (ca. 1902-1908), which marks a transition from his youthful Romantic phase to his final visionary works. The Symphony No. 3 reflects a lingering attachment to the symphonic conventions which influenced Scriabin's first two symphonies, particularly in its three-movement structure and relatively clear tonal scheme, though it already hints at the organic development and greater harmonic complexity of the single-movement Le Poème de l'extase, which strains the boundaries of form and key. These effusive works demand a calculated control that may seem at odds with their volatile and languorous expressions, though Gergiev and the London Symphony Orchestra deliver the music with rhythmic precision and focused tone colors to bring across Scriabin's kaleidoscopic soundworld with brilliance.