Elegy: Music by Glazunov, Tchaikovsky, Borodin

Elegy: Music by Glazunov, Tchaikovsky, Borodin
Composer Alexander Borodin, Alexander Glazunov, Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Artist Jacopo Taddei saxophone
Roma Tre Orchestra
Sieva Borzak conductor
Format 1 CD
Cat. number 96763
EAN code 5028421967639
Release April 2023

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About this release

Hidden behind the late 19th century’s great symphonies, sumptuous ballets and concertos with moving climaxes is something much more thoughtful and contemplative. A delicate sonic world, where silence is as important as sound, marked by pianissimi and a veiled, almost restrained feeling of melancholy. This secret landscape comes courtesy of a few precious pieces for string orchestra by three Russian composers, all active at approximately the same time.

Glazunov’s vast oeuvre for orchestra demonstrates his extraordinary talent for orchestration.

However, his pieces for smaller ensembles are just as noteworthy. These include the Theme and Variations in G Minor Op.97 for string orchestra, which evolved from a string quintet he wrote in 1895. The extremely simple theme in 3/4 has the feel of a solemn, ancient dance, simultaneously nostalgic and sombre.

In another example of Glazunov’s crystal-clear yet expressive writing, the string orchestra provides the backdrop and conversation partner for a solo instrument that was a rarity in concertos at the time: the saxophone. Overall, despite the explosive counterpoint in the work’s final movement, it is a dreamy composition, never overly dramatic, and subdued and melancholy in places: almost elegiac, in other words.

The elegy, with its meditative tone, typically written to reflect sadness at a death, ill-fated love or similar, is not a genre one tends to associate with Tchaikovsky. However, the two elegies he composed for string orchestra – the Elegy in Memory of Ivan Vasil’evich Samarin and the third movement of the String Serenade in C major Op.48 – are highly refined works that reveal another side to the famous composer.

In the same period that Tchaikovsky was writing his elegies, between 1880 and 1885, the composer and chemist Alexander Borodin was drafting his second Quartet, dedicated to his wife Ekaterina for their 20th anniversary. The third movement, a Nocturne, is one of Borodin’s finest works. It was therefore not only written at the same time as Tchaikovsky’s elegies, but also shares their gracefulness. Borodin’s night is clear, full of celestial visions and lofty tremolos. While the elegy provides the perfect space for reflection, memory and individual thoughts, these are also three elements that are intrinsically linked with the night, making Borodin’s Nocturne a fitting conclusion to a cycle of elegies and elegiac works.

This beautifully conceived program offers works for string orchestra by Russian composers, sharing an elegiac and melancholic mood, expressed in the warm and sonorous sound of string instruments, from the deep warm buzzing of the celli to the soaring melodies of the violins.
Presented are the beautiful, unique Saxophone Concerto by Glazunov, as well as that composer’s Theme & Variations for string orchestra, the two Elegies for strings by Tchaikovsky (one of them from the famous Serenade for Strings Op. 48), and the popular Nocturne from the second string quartet by Borodin, arranged for string orchestra.
Roma Tre Orchestra is the first academic Orchestra established in Rome and in Lazio. It was founded in 2005, it aims at dedication, excellence and at spreading of great music especially among younger generations. Its conductor in Residence is Sieva Borzak. The saxophonist Jacopo Taddei is the winner of the prestigious 2015 Claudio Abbado Music Prize.

Recorded April 2021 in Rome, Italy.
Booklet in English contains liner notes by Martina Cavazza Preta and a biography on the ensemble.


Track list

Disk 1

  1. Alexander Glazunov: Theme and Variations for String Orchestra in G Minor, Op. 97
  2. Alexander Glazunov: Concerto in E-Flat Major for Alto Saxophone and String Orchestra, Op. 109
  3. Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Elegy for String Orchestra in Memory of Ivan Samarin, TH 51
  4. Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Elegy from String Serenade in C Major, Op. 48
  5. Alexander Borodin: String Quartet No. 2 in D Major: III. Nocturne