Sinaisky is up against very stiff competition in the First Symphony with Karajan and Beecham very much the versions to have after almost half a century, those two still reign supreme. However I enjoyed the disciplined and characterful playing of the BBC Philharmonic that is also aided by superb Chandos sound. The opening Lento is given just the right ounce of mystery by Sinaisky whilst the lovely Andante is milked out at over 13 minutes. The concluding Finale is a virtuoso exercise but still, I cannot say that this partnership comes anywhere near Karajan and the magnificent 1949 Philharmonia. The couplings are also very well recorded, a sprightly 'King Lear' Overture and the reflectively picturesque 'In Bohemia', very much reminiscent of Svetlanov's classic Melodiya account. All in all, this is a fine collection and for an up to the minute, modern recording of these works, Sinaisky certainly will get my vote. If you really want the classic Balakirev First, you should not miss out on my previous recommendations on EMI, both classics of the gramophone.
Copyright © 2004, Gerald Fenech