Sunday, 1 April 2012

Oh dear another Blog

Well I'm bored faffing with my website so thought to post things on a blog instead - looks a lot less hassle. 

I should be putting records onto shelves, not playing the things, nevertheless I forgot I had this recording and don't think it has been reissued on CD and maybe someone else would like to here it.

Ippolitov-Ivanov : Caucasian Sketches, Op. 10. 
Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Nicolai Malko 
HMV C 3936-3967
[2EA 13432-2; 2EA 13433-1;  2EA 13441-1; 2EA 13434-1]
Recorded: 5th & 8th November 1948
London, EMI Studio No. 1, Abbey Road

The The Gramophone of December 1949 gave it a good review:-

'It is some years since I heard these impressions, the work of a romantic composer steeped in Russian peasant art. The set is splendidly reproduced, under a conductor who seems in the happiest relations with the music.

'The rich, warm colour is entirely happy: evocative, cleanly linined, full-toned, with a sense of hearty life brimming in the people. The individual brass solo phrases, and in particular the wood-wind on side 2, are generously recorded. This side is the most picturesque, in a way that later composers have made more familiar - men like Khatchaturyan. Ippolitov-Ivanov (1859-1935) was one of the earlier popularisers, trained under Rimsky-Korsakov, and working first at Tiflis, where he studied Georgian songs, and wrote a book on them. Here he feted Tchaikovsky, and produced his Mazeppa. Later, at Moscow, he did sterling work in opera and choralism. I remember being impressed by his setting of some Psalms, which reminded me of Bloch. We might well hear more of him: he is almost a "one-work" composer. His style is easy to grasp: lyrical, sometimes plangent, full of ingratiating melody, and orchestrated with the expected skill and dean tones of a Rimsky pupil, who became a People's Artist of the Republic. It would seem that since his heyday Russian composition has intensified, concentrated, used stronger essences of the many nationalities bound up in the amazing U.S.S.R. Perhaps some of this music now sounds a trifle old-fashioned: the final piece has nothing like the local colour of the second and third; but it is all good, sound music, attractive to those who like forthright pictorial stuff, as well as to others who enjoy less familiar melodic contours, such as we find in the two middle pieces. W.R.A.'

The Record Guide by Edward Sackville-West & Desmond Shawe-Taylor of 1951 gave the records a star although the music is given a slightly disparaging notice:-  'His Caucasian Sketches have achieved world-wide popularity; written in what might be termed the "travelogue" style, they reveal a strong sense for highly coloured orchestration, but are without any other musical distinction.'

The four sketches in Op 10 are:-
1. In a Mountain Pass
2. In a the Village
3. In the Mosque
4. Procession of the Sirdar

Links to Caucasian Sketches, Op. 10. Score and Wikipedia entry.

The original 78s are incredibly crackly although ClickRepair software has ameliorated the worst of it. I have strung the four sides together in one flac file, HERE at Mediafire. [about 42Mb].


  1. Thanks - and welcome to the blog world!

    1. Many thanks Buster - took me a while to figure out how to make a reply on my own page - suffering from button blindness, Jols

  2. Yes, it's not as if blogs as good as Buster's are that thick on the ground, so we definitely need yours! All power to your elbow, Jolyon. Nick

  3. I much enjoyed this one, but then "forthright pictorial stuff" is always welcome on my turntable, er, iPhone.

    Thanks, Nick, for the nice comment!

  4. I already had your website in my linklist, and I will put your blog on my bloglist, too. You can visit me at

  5. Thank You! Great stuff, sir!