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CD Review

Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakoff

Philips 438941

Schéhérazade

  • Schéhérazade Symphonic Suite, Op. 35 (1888)
  • Russian Easter Festival Overture, Op. 36 (1888)
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra/Seiji Ozawa
Philips 438941 - 58min
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About all this disc has going for it is the stunning virtuosity of the Vienna Philharmonic (which even Ozawa's inadequate technique can't tarnish in the course of a brief guest appearance) and the vivid, transparent Philips sound that captures every lifeless rhythm and flaccid phrase with perfect fidelity. Ozawa's over cautious treatment has none of the imposing grandeur or whimsical fantasy of either Beecham or Reiner. Perhaps he was wary of taking any chances during a concert recording. However, the studio version of Russian Easter which fills out this release is equally careful, deliberate, and, if anything, even more joyless. Rainer Honeck is a very seductive violin soloist, but his beautiful, melting tone is wasted in Ozawa's utterly unimaginative reading. To be completely fair, the applause at the end seems both genuine and enthusiastic. Proof, if it was actually necessary at this late date, that you can fool some of the people some of the time. Recordings this dull should be required by law to prominently display a Surgeon General's warning: "May cause drowsiness. Use care when operating a car or dangerous machinery."

Copyright © 1996, Thomas Godell

Trumpet