I meant to post this disc last night after the 1st Kalinnikov post however I passed out...whilst sitting at my computer. That's never happened to me before, I guess posting Kalinnikov is just too much of an exciting, energy-taxing venture. Ha.
Kalinnikov wrote only two symphonies (due to his ill health and short life; with such symphonic talent I have to imagine several more would have been written. That's always such a sad sad thought, creativity's progression unfulfilled...especially with music like this.) Somewhat of a nationalist, Kalinnikov eschewed the idea of following a strict program and chose to portray his native soil with music that evoked images and folk songs of his homeland. Kalinnikov’s reputation rests largely upon a single orchestral work, the Symphony No. 1 in G Minor. The symphony first appeared on the program of the Russian Musical Society in Kiev, where the second and third movements were encored. The positive reaction of the Ukrainian audience led to a wider dissemination of the score. It eventually found its way to concert venues in Moscow, Berlin, Paris, and Vienna; it remains in the repertoire of Russian orchestras to this day. The most striking features of this work are the reutilization of material from the first movement in the symphony’s finale and the sweeping melody that is offered by the strings after the unison introduction. There are some echoes of Tchaikovsky in the symphonies; however Kalinnikov's music unfolds in unexpected ways, due to his sustained creativity and tremendous flair. "Refreshing" always comes to mind for me with this symphony especially; I feel like "giving" it that subtitle (Symphony No.1 "The Refreshing") although I doubt that would make it official. From the start one is struck by the beautiful, balletic nature of the symphony, dance rhythms with imo such grace and charm- well I feel like either dancing or passing out from too much joy. The second movement (Andante commodamente) is one of the gentlest, most luminous idylls, the undulating strings and droplets of harp make this a transporting, floating world
for my ears and mind. The Scherzo continues with the lovely dance tunes, Russian to the core, and summons up images for me as does the whole symphony, of icy landscapes with onion-domed churches, peasant weddings, celebrations.. The Finale brings some thematic material from the first movement, which is a pleasure to hear once again; the symphony ends with perfection intact imo- lithe, characterful and brimming with life to the very last moment.
The second symphony, although more developed than the first, was less successful. I think it's of the same quality as No. 1, and it deserves to be much better known. It is indeed the 1st that I prefer however, it's simply one of the most memorable of symphonies to my ears. The Second Symphony too displays Kalinnikov's individual process of thematic transformation, his tendency to move into unexpected keys, and his disposition to build themes largely from seconds and thirds. Like the two equally well-crafted and rarely heard symphonies of his countryman, Sergei Taneyev, the symphonies of Kalinnikov have never achieved that much popularity outside of his homeland. Again had he lived longer, his name might have been mentioned in the same sentence as Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff (who was very fond of Kalinnikov and his music), but this is something unknowable.