Glazunov: The Seasons, Scénes de Ballet

"The performances do their utmost for music that is certainly rewarding to play." —Gramophone

The Seasons was popular as a ballet from its first performance in 1899, though it hardly ever seems to be staged nowadays and the music has not found much of an independent life. The frame of the work is familiar enough, with wintry hail and snow yielding to vernal sproutings and chirrupings, then summery cavortings by not terribly over-heated satyrs and nymphs, finally autumnal roisterings, in turn a trifle low-proof (especially from a composer with such a formidable alcoholic intake).

Glazunov goes about his task with high skill and a style suggesting that nothing had happened since the death of Tchaikovsky six years previously. The trouble, inevitably, is that comparisons cannot help being odious. Time and again Glazunov sets off with a promising idea, only to let it go slack. The manner is agreeable, easy on the ear, well crafted but unmemorable.

With the Scenes de Ballet—not written for dancing, as it happens, but as a concert suite—the Tchaikovskian flavour is still more pronounced, with a nice "Marionettes" every bit as well scored as one of Tchaikovsky's musical clock numbers but less melodious, a hefty mazurka that prances about effectively, a "Danse orientale" that might have been a Nutcracker reject, and, alas, a waltz Gramophone December 1993 67 that has all the right manner without much in the way of matter. The performances do their utmost for music that is certainly rewarding to play and can well pass the time pleasantly. --JW. Gramophone Magazine

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