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ClassicsOnline Home » IVANOVS: Symphonies Nos. 5 and 12
Nos. 5 and 12 ¡§Sinfonia Energica¡¨
Ivanovs is considered Latvia's preeminent symphonist. His grasp of orchestral
colour and musical texture was so extraordinary that his colleagues often
praised him for his ¡§precise, expressive, and nationalisticmusicalidiom¡¨. Had
he only written his Fourth (¡§Atlantida¡¨), Fifth or Sixth (¡§Latgales¡¨)
Symphonies, he would have left an indelible mark onmusic history. However,
he composed 21 symphonies, three concertos for various instrurnents (cello,
violin, and piano), five symphonic poems, three string quartets, and numerous
vocal, piano and chamber works.
Ivanovs was born on 9th October, 1906, in a small Latvian town called Preili.
Hegraduated in 1931 from the Latvian State Conservatory in Riga, where his
teachers were Jazeps Vitols (composition) and Georg Schnéevoigt (conducting).
He continued post-graduate studies with Vitols until 1933. In 1931 he began a
long association with Latvian Radio eventually becoming the artistic director
of the Latvian Radio Committee. In 1944 he joined the faculty of the Latvian
State Conservatory, becoming full professor in 1955. He was presidentof the
Latvian Composers' Union and was awarded the titles People's Artist of the
Latvian SSR (1956) and People's Artist of the USSR (1965). Janis Ivanovs died
in 1983, after completing three movements of his 21st Symphony.
bulk of Ivanovs' compositions are orchestral, the core ofwhich are his 21
symphonies. Stylistically his early works show influences of Scriabin and his
later works that of Prokofiev and Shostakovich. However, these are just passing
influences. The hand of the mature master is evident in all his works, early or
late. The language is distinctly Ivanovs' - nationalistic, dynamic, powerful,
dramatic. ¡§Janis Ivanovs is like thunder and lightning cleansing the air with
his Luciferic sounds. His symphonies are like ancient Greek tragedies, filled
with ecstasy and purification.¡¨ So wrote another Latvian composer and music
critic, Margers Zarins. Although every composition of Ivanovs delivers
something fresh and unusual, we also hear the familiar. His music provides us
with an unusual
sense of intimacy - a composer who is speaking to us, perhaps battling
something, defending us from obstacles and taking us on a safe and welcome
path. His love of melody is evident in all his works. In fact, the melodic
content is the essence of each of his compositions. Ivanovs drew upon the
native songs of the Latgale district (eastern Latvia) for his inspiration.
Latgale's folk-music combines both Slavic sadness and restrained beauty. This
is definitely a trademark of Ivanovs' music. Pathos, colour, intensity ,
tightness of stmcture and expansiveness of musical ideas are also corner-stones
of his style.
with most creative artists who lived through the horrors of World War II,
Ivanovs was deeply touched by the harshness and human tragedy that was bestowed
upon the world. Written in 1945 as the Nuremberg trials were occurring,
Ivanovs' Symphony No. 5 in C major is a work full of darkness, yet hope,
harshness, yet longings forjustice, and, indicative of his optimison, a work
that provides a brightness for the future.
opening statement acts as an epigraph for the symphony, ringing out as a
dynamic order - tutti fortissimo. The first movement is full of painful
emotional reflections - the Second World War is over. An end has been put to
the ugly dissonance brought about by the war...now the fingers of the musicians
who held a gun can once more inspire the obedient, melodious strings of a
violin, and the serenemelody of peace and creative work will ring out. A
contemplative mood prevails in the second movement. A striking contrast to the
peaceful nature of this movement is an episode portraying the enemy. A rough,
even primitive melody is rhythmically supported by a monotonous harmonic
ostinato. The third movement is lyrical. Playful Latvian folk-tunes and dances
eventually lead to an elegiac waltz. The finale is dramatic and powerful,
concluding with a dynamic coda of powerful affirmation.
determination and joy of life - these are the words that come to mind when
hearing Ivanovs' Symphony No. 12 in C major (Sinfonia Energica). The
work consists of a prologue and four movements. If we were to examine all of
the previous symphonies of Ivanovs, we would encounter fast movements which act
as a relief from the drama of what surrounds them. The Twelfth Symphony uses
a different approach. It does not actually have a fast movement. Instead, fast
sections are incorporated throughout the symphony, dispersing the relief
according to a new musical concept.
chords open the symphony, creating an epic atmosphere. The movement maintains
almost a perpetual pulse, building, as if up a ladder to a powerful climax. The
second movement is only nine pages long, but manages to leave a powerful
musical image as a result of its fugato structure. The third movement is a
psychologically lyrical meditation. A brusque-like, affirmative finale (almost
like a symphonic anthem) concludes the composition.
National Symphony Orchestra
Latvian National Symphony Orchestra has 110 musicians and is the leading
orchestra of the Latvian Republic. The orchestra continues to develop those
musical traditions which originated at the beginning of the nineteenth century.
Latvia always has been a link between Western cultures and Russia. Young
Richard Wagner worked in the Riga German Theatre from 1837 till 1839. Franz
Liszt, Clara Wieck-Schumann, Anton Rubinstein and Hector Berlioz gave
concertsin Riga in the 1840s. However, only after Latvian independence in 1918
was it possible to form the orchestra. The Latvian National Symphony Orchestra
was founded in 1926.
1926 the symphony orchestra was actually a small ensemble playing popular music
programmes. Founded by the outstanding Latvian musician Arvids Parups, the
orchestra in its first year gave numerous concerts and live broadcasts. After
1930 the orchestra's activities considerably expanded. The best conductors of the
Riga Opera conducted the orchestra: J. Medins, T. Reiters, Leo Blech, G.
Schneevoigt. Well-known guest conductors also appeared with the orchestra,
including Eric Coates, Igor Stravinsky and Erich Kleiber. The Latvian National
Symphony Orchestra, along with the Opera in Riga, rapidly became one of the
major cultural attractions in the country.
the principal conductors of the orchestra have been Leonids Vigners, Edgars
Tons, Vassily Sinaisky and Paul Magi. Many outstanding soloists have performed
with the orchestra, among them, David Oistrakh, Emil Gilels, Leonid Kogan,
Sviatoslav Richter, and Van Cliburn. Many of the world's finest conductors have
also led the orchestra: Kiril Kondrashin, Yuri Simonov, Mariss Jansons, Neeme
Jarvi, Krzysztof Penderecki, Carlo Zecchi, Jean-Claude Casadesus, and Leonard
Latvian National Symphony Orchestra has also toured around the world, with
appearances in Sweden, Switzerland, Germany, France (at the Cannes Festival,
Festival Hardelot and the Fêtes Musicales en Touraine with Sviatoslav Richter),
Belgium (Festival de Wallonie), Great Britain, Portugal, Luxembourg,
Netherlands (at the Concertgebouw), Italy, and Austria.
Yablonsky was born in 1962 into a musical family in Moscow. He made his
orchestral début as a cellist at the age of nine, playing Haydn's Concerto
in C Major with conductor Gennady Provatorov. Many recitals and appearances
with orchestras soon followed. In 1977 he and his mother, the pianist Oxana
Yablonskaya emigrated to the United States, where he continued his studies at
the Juilliard School, the Curtis Institute, and Yale University. While enjoying
a distinguished international career as a cellist, in 1991, Dmitry Yablonsky
made his conducting début with members of the Santa Cecilia Orchestra of Rome
at a festival in Camerino, Italy, where other participants were Yuri Bashmet
and Martha Argerich. Since then he has conducted the St Petersburg Symphony
Orchestra, the Gorki Symphony Orchestra in France, and toured with the Latvian
National symphony Orchestra in Spain.
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IVANOVS: Symphonies Nos. 5 and 12