Although you may dismiss Anton Rubinstein as an academic pedagogue, there's no denying the fact that his music can be quite satisfying at times. His symphonies may also be sometimes tedious and include an amount of note spinning but in the 'Ocean' at least, there is an element of triumph and glory that seems to transcend all before it.
George Hanson here provides us with the original 40-minute version of the work that was also previously recorded on a Vox Turnabout LP with the Philharmonia Hungarica. This makes more aesthetic sense as the mammoth seven movement version does tend to verge on the bombastic. This is a fine, well honed interpretation that moves along quite well with an expansive Moderato assai first movement and a stirring finale in which the main themes of the work are brought to a glorious apotheosis.
Russophiles may also be intrigued by the additional works on disc that also call for serious investigation. The Overture Triomphale is similar to its more illustrious counterpart from Tchiakovsky and it also has bells in its final moments. The short Serenades are also quite pretty and Hanson makes the most out of their sugary sentimentality.
MD&G's recording is fine and very clear with special emphasis given to the brass sections although the string sound of the Wuppertal players is also very kind on the ear. This release nicely complements the previous Rubinstein issue which features the Cello Concerto and other shorter works and is obviously recommended to those who wish to continue exploring this composer.
Copyright © 2004, Gerald Fenech