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IPPOLITOV-IVANOV, M.M.: Symphony No. 1 / Turkish Fragments / Turkish March

Ippolitov-Ivanov's Symphony No. 1 in E minor, Opus 46, was written in 1908 and dedicated to the Caucasian musician Vasily Il'ich Safonov, the son of a Cossack general, and director of the Moscow Conservatory in succession to S.I. Taneyev in 1889, later being appointed director of the National Conservatory of Music in New York, a position once held by Dvorák. Ippolitov-Ivanov was Safonov's immediate successor as director of the Moscow Conservatory, the latter feeling himself out of sympathy with his students, affected by the political restlessness of the period.

The first movement opens with a slow introduction, followed by an Allegro, the first subject contrasted with a less restless clarinet melody. The music is in the usual symphonic first movement form, ending with the return of the opening Adagio. The Scherzo, in C major, is introduced by slower chords and a curious melodic figure that soon leads us into the moto perpetuo of the violins. The Trio, in E major, offers a contrast of mood and texture, before the repetition of the Scherzo.

Clarinets and bassoons announce the opening melody of the Elegia, accompanied by a chorus of strings, suggesting the solemnity of the Russian liturgy. This is followed by a Finale in which the principal subject is passed from wind to strings and back, before the appearance of other material, a folk-song that seems strangely familiar, and a later brief excursion into a thoroughly Russian piece of wind writing.

In later life Ippolitov-Ivanov took an increasing interest in the folk-music of Turkish peoples, the music of the Uzbek, Kazakh and Turkmen, as well as that of the Western Turks and of the Arabs. The Turkish Fragments, Opus 62, were written in 1930, and offer four orchestral sketches, using material of Turkish folk origin. The work is scored for a large orchestra, and is dedicated to the Azerbaijani soprano, Shevket Mamedova, one of the leading figures in the opera in Baku.

The first of the fragments, Caravan, sets a characteristic Turkish melody in illustration of the progress of the caravan, contrasted with a middle section that offers more varied material. The second piece, At Rest, has an outer framework of rhythmic tranquillity, and a central section of a much livelier kind. A similar three-part structure is used for the third of the fragments, Night, where the cor anglais at first offers a Turkish melody, followed by one of those even more characteristic oriental turns of phrase, that must recall Rimsky-Korsakov. The Turkish Fragments end with a Festival, a lively dance tune appearing above a constantly reiterated rhythmic figure in the bass. It makes a satisfactorily animated conclusion to the short suite.

The Turkish March, published in Moscow in 1932, is couched in the conventional harmonic terms that were part of Ippolitov-Ivanov's usual musical vocabulary. The march includes melodic material that has hints of an even more popular Turkish origin.

Mikhail Mikhaylovich
Choo Hoey
Singapore Symphony Orchestra

Symphony No. 1 in E Minor, Op. 46
  1. 01 I. Adagio - Allegro risoluto
  2. 02 II. Scherzo. Allegro
  3. 03 III. Elegia. Larghetto
  4. 04 IV. Finale. Allegro moderato
Turkish Fragments, Op. 62
  1. 05 I. Caravan
  2. 06 II. At Rest
  3. 07 III. Night
  4. 08 IV. Festival
  5. 09 Turkish March, Op. 55