Here's a gem from Melodiya-->Olympia originally recorded in 1977-78. For an AAD recording I'm happy to say it sounds pretty damn good...although this could in fact be due simply to the quality of the music :) Lev Knipper has become a composer that I am most fond of; I'm certain that if more of his works were to be recorded (fingers crossed!!) I'd be in (full-blown) love. I already have a stable, long-term relationship with Myaskovsky of course; so many recordings are available, the symphonies are a *must* and then there's so many smaller works and tone-poems, chamber music and so on.
First up is Knipper's "Symphonietta for Strings", and a stirring work it is. *The first movement begins with a stern homophonic introduction in which the germinal theme is presented in the lower strings.
There follows an agitated fugue (full orchestra) which seems to recall Hindemith in it's stylish flavor.
The open-ended fugue is abruptly terminated and followed by an extended chamber-concerto section with solo violin, then cello and finally solo viola soar over pizzicato chordal outbursts from lower strings. All 3 solos are derived from the germinal theme, displaying lyrical and dynamic possibilities. The fugue reappears, further extended and the chamber-concerto section is recalled in the upper strings before an energetic coda closes the movement in triple-time. *The second movement begins with the gentle oscillation of D flat and C major tonic triads over a long D flat pedal in the lower strings. A solo violin line glides over the rich harmonic background, resulting in much lyricism as the upper strings take over its melody. With the return of the A section extra-part movement from second violins, violas, and cellos comes an even richer texture before the movement closes serenely in D flat.
*In the third movement passages for solo instruments are juxtaposed with writing for full orchestra. A solo violin enters in the intermezzo, with a folk-inspired melody contrasted with a murmuring chordal sequence. The pastoral flavor of the movement is continued as a solo cello enters, using the violin's phrase over interesting coloristic effects from the strings. *The last movement opens with exciting dynamic music for full orchestra which makes much use of rhythmic ostinati and the same harmonic devices (pedal points, pivotal pitch-centers) from the inner movements. A short, quiet contrapuntal section follows in which each section of the orchestra enters in turn before the vigorous music reappears with more rhythmic ostinati. The germinal theme and fugal development from the 1st movement returns, extending the finale in music of great excitement and closing the work firmly in C. *The "Concert Poem for Cello and Orchestra" can perhaps be best described as an improvisation in which cadenza-like lines for solo cello of fiendish difficulty link various episodes. Knipper's use of percussion is particularly effective in this piece and some striking coloristic effects are achieved by combining sustained percussion sonorities, eg. vibraphone and gong, with solo cello lines. Several episodes are especially important for percussion, and cuckoo calls for xylophone and other instruments provide an eastern counterpart to a messianic use of birdsong.
And as for Myaskovsky's 7th, well I'm going tol assume that many visitors are at least somewhat familiar with it, thus saving me from continued writing... So, enjoy...I'm off to bed!