I'm really pleased that next week it'll be Grechaninov. I only have his Passion Week and Liturgia Domestica and no idea of his symphonies, chamber music, etc., although I have dithered about taking a chance and buying some.
This is the one bright spark in a dire schedule this week. I have recordings of all his symphonies and some of his choral works. His symphonies aren't anything special though the 2nd & 3rd aren't too bad. The choral works are a different matter especially the Cantat 'Praise the Lord' which is highly atmospheric. He also composed quite a lot of piano music for beginners which can be quite fun to play.
Just one item by Gretchaninov on my shelf: 'Liturgica Domestica', a 2 LP set on the Balkanton label, made in Bulgaria and not much seen in these parts, in my experience. I bought it not for the composer, but for the singer, Boris Christoff, who in my diffident opinion was one of the finest voices I've ever heard. Actually I cant remember a note of the music, but I do recall Christoff sounding as good as he usually does. Presumably Balkanton chose to honour Gretchanikov not for his musical merits, but because they and Christoff were both Bulgarian.
Coincidentally I have been collating the CD collection of a late customer of mine and what should pop up out of one of the hundreds and hundreds of cds but Gretchaninov's Liturgia Domestica. I put it in the laptop just to play the "Credo" which I hadn't heard for years but which used to be a regular on Your 100 Best Tunes back in the 60's. Ah, not the same Credo! Then along he comes on CotW. I hadn't realised he composed symphonies as well so, among all the dross that passes for R3 these days, a real find.
Two (tenuously connected) things. I remember the Gretchaninov 'Creed' (as Alan Keith used to refer to it) in a grimly tremulous performance on Your 100 BTs; I used to dislike it intensely. AK used to pronounce the composer's name Gret-CHAN-inov, and so it's been an education and a surprise to hear Donald MacLeod refer to him as Gretchan-IN-ov. I'm enjoying much of the music more than I was expecting too - not as anonymous (or tremulously grim) as I thought it was going to be.
I have enjoyed the programme - both the interesting presentation by Donald Macleod, and the music, which I had never heard before. Reminded me of Radio 3 in the old days, when one learned so much.
Thank you so much, ff, for flagging this up. I am deeply embarrassed to say that, despite attending several Proms of Russian music this year (and for nearly fifty years), in all my fifty plus years of loving music I have not taken any notice of Alexandr Grechaninov. He was just a name on the historical horizon of music. I am sure that I am not alone in that ignorance but Donald Macleod has certainly whetted my appetite. In fact I have just let friends in a mainly London based choir into my exciting discovery in the hope that they and I can make up for lost time. Grechaninov's career seems to mirror Berg, Schonberg and Martinu to name a few but he remains more a man of his roots and time living as he does from a time so long ago up until very close to our own (1864 - 1956). I feel there is an affinity with Rachmaninov in his colours, melodic invention and the types of music he wished to write though being older than Rachmaninov his earlier nineteeth century upbringing means that contemporary Russians like Prokofiev, Shostakovich and Stravinsky have little or no influence upon his music. They were both fascinating late romantic hangovers.