The enigmatic figure of Serge Taneyev is an often overlooked figure in the history of Soviet music but his Fourth Symphony has enjoyed a fine reputation with various recordings over the years. Chandos choose to re-record the work having already a version by Järvi in their catalogue. However I can safely say that this coupling that also includes the Second Symphony is a very fine investment on Chandos' part as the Polyansky/RSSO partnership simply oozes quality from every corner. The Second Symphony is a beautiful work, in three movements it has much in common with Glazunov's more ubiquitous Fourth Symphony. The opening Introduction and Allegro is almost fifteen minutes long and Polyansky shapes the myriad of themes and counterpoint quite impressively. The Andante is deeply mournful and pensive and here, Taneyev makes excellent use of the strings to shape the thematic skeleton of the movement. The final boisterous Allegro is bombastic enough and Polyansky uses his crack brass ensemble to pull of the movement in triumphant fashion.
As I already said, the Fourth is one of Taneyev's most popular works and it does receive a brilliant interpretation here, possible the best available now. All four movements are tackled with great vigour and passion by the RSSO who have Polyansky on top form throughout. The fugal and counterpoint challenges of the music are also finely negotiated with the blaring Finale sounding like a real rabble-rouser! The opulent Chandos recording is another added asset and here I would have no qualms in recommending this version above the old Svetlanov or Järvi on the same label. As usual, notes and presentation are in the top drawer league. This is surely a winner for all Russophiles!
Copyright © 2002, Gerald Fenech