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CD Review

Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakoff


Sergei Levitin, violin
Kirov Orchestra, Marinsky Theatre, St. Petersburg/Valery Gergiev
Philips 470840-2 63m DDD
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Also released on Hybrid SACD:
Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan

Gergiev returns to the Russian orchestral field after an excellent 'Pictures' which received high praise from almost all quarters. This time he tackles Rimsky's overtly famous and over recorded symphonic suite, 'Schéhérazade'.

The demonic conductor brings the passionate vitality, intrinsic power, and an eye for detail for which he is famous. The reading positively overflows with brilliant orchestral playing on all counts and in all departments.

'The Sea and Sinbad's Ship's is suitably romantic whilst the wild abandon of the concluding shipwreck is almost spine-tingling in certain places. The recording compares well with two timeless classics in my books, the first being Ansermet's outstanding 1960 foray with the OSR that is still in the demonstration class with regards to sound.

The underrated Kletzki for EMI, formerly available on CFP but now on Testament is also given a fine run for its money here. Gergiev is definitely a strong front runner if you haven't come to this work yet (which is admittedly quite impossible).

The accompanying pieces are also outstandingly done with Borodin's 'Steppes' that reminds me of the old classic Svetlanov version whilst 'Islamey' is also in the best Russian tradition. No qualm about this one then, this is Gergiev showing us he knows a thing or two about the more popular works in the repertoire. Outstanding!

Copyright © 2002, Gerald Fenech