Label: The Electric Recording Company – ERC056 / EMI ASD 3911
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The Thirteenth Symphony was written in 1962. A poem by Yevgeny Yevtushenko, a young, but already very well-known poet at that time, called ‘Babi Yar’ served as the stimulus for beginning work on the symphony. The rough draft was finished on 23 March 1962, the piano score on 27 March, and the orchestral score on 21 April, but by this time the idea for the composition had expanded. The composer wanted to put a few more of Yevtushenko’s poems to music, in addition to ‘Babi Yar’. According to the dates in the author’s manuscript of the score, the four new movements of the symphony were finished in a short time: 5 July—‘Humour’, 9 July—‘In the Shop’, 16 July—‘Fears’ and 20 July—‘A Career’.
Symphony No. 13 in B-flat minor (Op. 113), titled “Babi Yar”, was first performed in Moscow during December in 1962. The hour-long work features a bass soloist, a male choir, and large orchestra and is laid out in five movements, each a setting of a Yevgeny Yevtushenko poem. The five earthily vernacular poems portray the massacre of Jews at Babi Yar during World War II and denounce Soviet life one aspect at a time: brutality, cynicism, deprivation, anxiety, corruption. Kirill Kondrashin conducted the 1962 premiere after Yevgeny Mravinsky had declined the assignment under State pressure.
André Previn, who died in February last year was born April 6, 1929, in Berlin, Germany and fled Nazi persecution with his family to Los Angeles in 1939. Previn’s pedigree was unique: no other Oscar-winning conductor-composer from the Hollywood film studios became equally successful and respected in the world of classical music as he did with The London Symphony Orchestra – headed from 1968 to 1979 – whilst also maintaining a side career as a jazz pianist. In 1996 he was created a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE), and in 1998 he received a Kennedy Center Honor for lifetime achievement in music.
When Previn undertook this remarkable 1979 Kingsway Hall recording Shostakovich had been dead just four years and the Berlin Wall would not fall for another ten. It’s a wonderfully transparent and richly rewarding performance that is testament to Previn’s symbiotic relationship with the LSO during the 1970s showing them both at their very best. Sonically hugely dynamic, masterminded by Walter Legge protégé Suvi Raj Grubb, the results are a truly revelatory and exhilarating listening experience.
Recorded in England at the 5th & 6th July 1979, Kingsway Hall, Londone
Recording Producer: Suvi Raj Grubb
Balance Engineer: Christopher Parker
This edition is limited to 150 copies and is available