Alexander Mosolov: Symphony No. 5 and Harp Concerto
Taylor Ann Fleshman, harp; Moscow Symphony Orchestra, Arthur Arnold, conductor. Naxos, 2020.
Alexander Mosolov was one of the stars of the Russian avant-garde who fell out with the Soviets, doing time in the Gulag. Upon return, he played nice by arranging Central Asian folk tunes and conforming to the Soviet ethic but never reclaiming his past success. His harp concerto follows the style of Glière, though with a notably unique cinematic and lyric voice. After being lost for decades, Arthur Arnold of the Moscow Symphony Orchestra rediscovered and recorded a world premiere of this monumental, four-movement work—as well as Mosolov’s Fifth Symphony—with the talented harpist Taylor Ann Fleshman as soloist. If you have any doubt that Mosolov considered his concerto a kind of magnum opus, just look at the length—37 minutes—six minutes longer than his symphony. Indeed there is a vastness to the music, a symphonic quality that prioritizes the orchestra, placing them on equal footing with the soloist. Fleshman’s approach allows her harp line to blossom from the symphonic color, gently caressing and expressive. Beginning in a more hushed and raw fashion, the concerto gives way to a Gavotte, seemingly pulled directly from a Prokofiev ballet, and a Toccata finale replete with xylophone and other orchestral antics à la Rimsky-Korsakov. This is a splendid recording of a real treasure. •