GLAZUNOV:  Introduction and Dance of Salome for SalomÈ, Op. 90.  Tsar Iudeyskiy, Op. 95 "The King of the Jews"
Russian State Symphonic Capella/Russian State Symphony Orch/Valeri Polyansky, cond.

CHANDOS  9824 (F) (DDD) TT:  69:09


Alexander Glazunov (1865-1936) had already written his  famous ballets Raymonda (1896/97) and The Seasons (1899/1901) when he was requested to write incidental music for a production of Oscar Wilde's play SalomÈ in 1908 in St. Petersburg.  This was an all-star occasion  combining the talents of actress-dancer Ida Rubinstein, set and costume designer Lev Bakst, choreographer Mikhail Fokine and director Vsevolod Meyerhold.  As Glazunov had denounced Richard Strauss, whose opera Salome was the sensation of the day, as an "infamous scriboilleur," he was impelled to write music for the play devoid of sensuousness -- and he succeeded.  This is a Dance of little titillation, far removed from Strauss's voluptuous concept and it is difficult to imagine that even Ida Rubinstein could have done much with it.  Perhaps the preceding Introduction was effective in the stage production; it is hardly strong enough to stand on its own as a concert piece

Immediately after working on SalomÈ, Glazunov was asked to write incidental music for a mystery-play with a text by the Grand Duke Konstantin Konstantinovich called The King of the Jews, which was premiered in January 1914 with a cast that included the Grand Duke.  Apparently  all of Glazunov's music is included on this CD, beginning with  an Introduction and Chorus which utilizes a musical idea representing "the figure on the cross," used at other times throughout the score at appropriate times.  There are several choral sections, some with a baritone soloist, and the work consists of, in addition to the Introduction and Chorus,  four Entr'actes, Song of Jesus' Disciples, The Levites' Trumpets (actually horns), Act II ending, Syrian Dance, Shepherd's Musette and Song of the Singers of Psalms.  Among these is another Salome's Dance, again, as before, a chaste approach to the subject. 

Neither of these scores represent Glazunov at his best.  Polyansky and his fine orchestra and chorus do what can be done, with sound from Chandos that vividly conveys the performances in a resonant acoustic. It is rather odd that Chandos would issue this recording as their catalog still contains a 1996  recording of The King of the Jews with the same orchestra and chorus directed by Gennady Rozhdestvensky (Chandos 9467), although that CD contains no filler.  Program notes for both CDs are by David Nice, informative as far as they go, but not sufficiently detailed to tell the listener exactly what is included in each excerpt.  Some collectors may remember an early Turnabout LP of The King of the Jews, which left out all of the choral parts. Now we have it complete, not only in the two Chandos issues, but via a  Naxos Russian recording I haven't heard.  Recommended only for those who must have everything Glazunov composed.