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A.K. Glazunov Fantasy :'La mer' (The Sea)

Like Duroc's Grande Fantaisie, Fantasia 'La Mer' op. 28 by Aleksandr K. Glazunov is another fine example of the plentiful harvest of transcriptions, paraphrases and reworkings of famous orchestral and opera pages which were widely diffused throughout eighteenth-century (and beyond) Europe. Fantasia 'La Mer' was composed in 1889, a very important year for Glazunovís career and the culmination of a five-year period full of important successes and acknowledgements. At Weimar in 1884 it was old Franz Liszt who had started praising him for his Symphony n. 1 Slava. Subsequently, the new publishing house Beljaev was founded especially to diffuse his music in Leipzig, and at St. Petersburg there was a new concert series: the 'Concerts of Russian Music'. In 1887-88, without the intervention of his former student Glazunov, the opera Prince Igor - the master-piece left unfinished by Aleksandr Borodin who died a few months before in March 1887 - could not have been finished by Nicolaj Rimsky-Korsakov. After successfully conducting his own operas in Paris and London, Glazunov's definite consecration arrived in 1889 by being given the double chair of pianoforte and composition at the important St. Petersburg Conservatorium. In Fantasia 'La Mer' op. 28, Glazunov,by following the same line as Tchaikovsky and Rimsky-Korsakov, creates an outstanding synthesis of beautynd Western progressive symphonic music (Berlioz and Liszt) and the stylistic features of the Russian national school. In the transcription for two pianos at eight hands - realized by the composer himself - much is lost in colours, timbres, and the various flavours marking the original orchestral score, however, the charm of this Fantasia remains intact. The piece is divided into four episodes. The first episode projects us immediately onto endless horizons, disturbed by clear foretastes of a looming storm. Glazunov's notes with their figurative expression render real the feeling of threatening clouds. Then everything settles, and the calm returns: peace can now start. Protagonist of the second episode is a splendid main theme - a genuine gem of sweetness - which its nostalgic and dreamy purity gradually builds up. However, new and restless clouds start looming on the horizon once more. This time for real. In the third episode the two pianos are working at the limit of their tonal and expressive powers to give the idea of the gradual risingof the sea. However, the end of the world fails to come. And with great refinement Glazunov avoids risking the obvious. Sudden gusts of wind force the storm to change direction: the boiling sea gradually subsides. In the final episode patches of clear sky appear. Ruffled fragments of the former calm start gathering together, by taking advantage of the now calmer waves which, with amiable curls break on the safe shores of the final Cadence.



Angelo Chiarle

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