Steinberg: Symphony No. 2

Göteborgs Symfoniker, Neeme Järvi

Maximilian Steinberg (1883-1946) studied composition from Rimsky-Korsakov; he even sat next to Stravinsky in class. Steinberg married Rimsky-Korsakov’s daughter in 1908, and Stravinsky composed his Feu d’artifice for the newlyweds. After Rimsky-Korsakov’s death that year, Steinberg inherited his estate, was appointed to the St. Petersburg Conservatory and completed Rimsky-Korsakov’s orchestration textbook, along with the suite from his opera Le Coq d’Or. This irked young Stravinsky, who went on to write world-famous ballets. As for Steinberg’s symphony? The shimmering orchestration of Rimsky-Korsakov was not lost on him, either. The first movement’s melodies slither chromatically past the ears. The second movement is a delightful Mendelssohn-gone-Russian fantasy, and the finale moves toward transcendence.