Tuesday, November 24, 2009
In Praise of Tradition - part 2
Yevgeny Mravinsky was the director of the Leningrad Philharmonic from 1938 until his death fifty years later. For years, the orchestra existed as a legend in the west. An orchestra so virtuosic and distinctive that nothing on the our side of the iron curtain could remotely approach it. Eventually Stalin died and after Khrushchev allowed relations with the West to thaw, the Lenningrad Philharmonic was one of the first organizations allowed abroad.
Nobody in the West ever remembered Tchaikovsky played like this. His music was darker, more violent, more 'masculine' than anyone had ever thought possible. For a time, all the complaining about Tchaikovsky's music in vaguely homophobic terms was retired. Because when Mravinsky and his orchestra played it, here was a composer fully worthy to take his place with the other greats and the first Russian composer to consistently reach greatness and firmly launch the tradition that eventually begat us (among so many others) Scriabin, Stravinsky, Shostakovich and Schnittke.