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A.T. Gretschaninov Sarabanda - Gavot


Like Glazunov, Aleksandr T. Gretschaninov, his senior by just a few months, was also a pupil of Rimsky-Korsakov at the Conservatorium of St. Petersburg from 1890 to 1893. He had formerly studied at the Conservatorium of Moscow, his native city, where, after finishing his studies he returned in 1896 and taught for several years until 1922, the year he left Russia to never return. During this period Gretschaninov made a considerable name for himself as a composer, above all thanks to two operas composed for the Arts Theatre: 1903 (Dobrinja Nikiti) and 1912 (Soeur Béatrice). Highly significant were also his orchestral works of the same period. Besides three symphonies there is also a set of Symphonic pieces including the Suite for violin op. 81 in modo antico. Composed in 1918 - dramatic years in Russia's history - likewise the famous Classic Symphony op. 25 by Sergej Prokofiev of 1916-17, this «return to the past» could appear (if not exactly a reactionary outburst) a disconcerting gesture of fulfilment. Actually, for both composers this temporary return to eighteenth-century style represents a bold declaration of independence from any kind of ideology - artistic or other. The Sarabanda is an amiable and delicate rèverie. The old-style lyricism of the main theme and the gradual rising of the harmonies gradually gives the piece a more modern depth and expressive complexity. Protagonist of the Gavotta is the simple and tuneful theme in its merry, carefree and openly folk-style naïveté. In the middle part of the piece several rather melodramatic modulations definitely accentuate the pathos and open up wider and more intriguing horizons.       

Angelo Chiarle       

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