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CD Review

Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakoff

Warner 69899-4

Orchestral Works

Warner Svetlanov Edition, Volume 30
  • Symphonic Suite "Schéhérazade" for Violin & Orchestra, Op. 35
  • Symphony #1 in E minor, Op. 1
  • Symphony #2 "Antar", Op. 9
  • Symphony #3 in C Major, Op. 32
  • "Doubinouchka" (The Little Oak Stick)
  • Prelude-Cantata "From Homer", Op. 60
  • Prelude "At the Tomb", Op. 61
  • Capriccio Espagñole, Op. 34
  • Fantasia on Serbian Themes, Op. 6
  • Musical Picture "Sadco", Op. 5
  • Overture "Russian Easter Festival", Op. 36
  • Sinfonietta on Russian Themes, Op. 31
  • Suite "Pan Voyevoda"
  • Suite "The Snow Maiden"
  • Suite "Le Coq d'or"
USSR Symphony Orchestra/Evgeni Svetlanov
Warner Classics 2564-69899-4 5CDs 322m ADD/DDD

This is definitely a box of delights for any self respecting fan of Russian orchestral music. Svetlanov needs no introduction as the finest interpreter of these works which never fail to delight and give pleasure with their bagfuls of creativity and fantasy throughout.

Rimsky's symphonies are perhaps overlooked for form and orchestration and in Svetlanov's hands they receive a smashing interpretation. The First is particularly revealing of the young composer's intentions whilst 'Antar' is more in tune with the later Schéhérazade which is also a fine version to acquire. Svetlanov coaxes the usual brilliant playing out of the USSR Symphony Orchestra in the shorter pieces such as the Russian Easter Festival Overture, the Fantasy on Serbian Themes and the more expansive Sinfonietta on Russian Themes. The opera suites are also winningly done especially "Le Coq d'Or" with its distinctive Russian era trumpet sound adding that authenticity to proceedings.

The Melodiya recordings have come up trumps in Warner's remastering although my only qualms about the set are the rather short notes barely filling four pages. Gone are the days of those large and expansive LP librettos which characterized these recordings upon their first issue. But other than that, the set is an undoubtedly valuable addition to the authentic Russian orchestral discography.

Copyright © 2007, Gerald Fenech