On this well filled disc
we have a further well planned group of
works played by the chamber Orchestra
of the Kremlin. Earlier discs have been
of chamber works of Shostakovich, Vainberg,
Schnittke, Miaskovsky, Schoenberg and
Strauss, and a compilation disc. All of
these have been conducted by the Orchestra’s
Conductor in Chief, Misha Rachlevsky.
This new disc of the works of Shchedrin
is to be welcomed as it contains two world
premiere recordings in the latter two
pieces on this disc.
The recordings, are superb,
in good concert hall perspective, set
far enough back in the hall for the warm
acoustic to be clearly appreciated. Shchedrin’s
arrangement of Bizet’s masterpiece is
well known, from other recordings, my
own particular favourite being that played
by the Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra under
Gennady Rozhdestvensky. There is an animal
attack clearly evident here which is missing
from the present disc – perhaps it is
something to do with the fact that the
earlier recording was the work’s premiere
recording, and the playing brought this
clearly to the front. The present interpretation
is much more sedate with a warm romantic
glow over the whole proceedings. Although
I like this, the excitement levels are
on a much lower plane.
The principal interest
in this disc for me was the two other
recordings being presented, both world
premieres, both works being much more
recent than the Bizet arrangements. The
first, Russian Photographs, is
a four movement suite composed in 1994.
The first movement which almost hangs
in the air throughout is a pastorale which
conjures up a feeling of nostalgia. The
second movement is entitled "Cockroaches
throughout Moscow" and is suitably
realistic scherzo. "Stalin Cocktail"
which I believe formed part of another
Russian Chamber disc released some time
ago on RCA, is a sarcastic Passacaglia
which conjures up an horrific picture
of "Old Joe". The final movement
is entitled "Evening Bells".
This is wound around the chorale phrase
"forever remembered", and ends
with a discordant vocal contribution,
presumably from the orchestral players.
The final work on this
excellent disc is called Velicanie
(Glorification) and, if you
can imagine it, opens with a festive,
triumphant fanfare , on strings, (sound
sample – track 18). This work, written
in only eight days, is a fascinating example
of Shchedrin’s lively imagination when
set a task. The Glorification is truly
Russian, with the black side of the celebration
coming to the fore, epitomised by themes
on double bass interrupting the general
flow of the piece.
This is outstanding in
every way, provided you are not looking
for a more "ethnic" approach
to the Bizet arrangement. I enjoyed this
disc very much. It can justifiably stand
with its head held high in comparison
with this ensemble’s earlier issues.
6 Ludwig Points. Sound
samples: Track 3, 0’00" Track 15,
00’00" and Track 18, 0’00".
see also reviews by
Barnett and Tim