One of the most grown-up review sites around

Search MusicWeb Here
Google seem to have closed down local search engines. You can use this FreeFind engine but it is not so comprehensive
You can go to Google itself and enter the search term followed by the search term.


International mailing

  Founder: Len Mullenger             Senior Editor: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  

Some items
to consider

Piano Concertos 1 and 2
Surprise Best Seller and now

A Garland for John McCabe


DIETHELM Symphonies

The best Rite of Spring in Years

BACH Magnificat

Brian Symphs 8, 21, 26

Just enjoy it!

La Mer Ticciati




simply marvellous

Outstanding music

Elite treatment

some joyous Gershwin

Bartok String Quartets
uniquely sensitive

Cantatas for Soprano


REVIEW Plain text for smartphones & printers

Support us financially by purchasing this from

Mily BALAKIREV (1837-1910)
Symphony No.1 in C major (1864-97) [40:07]
Symphonic Poem: Russia (1863) [13:38]
Symphonic Poem: Tamara (1867) [21:06]
USSR State Symphony Orchestra/Evgeni Svetlanov
rec. stereo, Moscow, 1974 (Symphony); 1978 (Symphonic Poems). ADD
ALTO ALC1331 [75:09]

Alto do well to maintain their Russian connection to a catalogue that was the premium mainstay of the 1970s and 1980s. You could probe back further and look for recordings of these works by Gauk and Golovanov. If you could find them you would sacrifice stereo and good modern recording techniques adopted by sound engineers, Yuri Kokzhayan, S Pazukhin and E Shakhnazaryan working during the days of Alexei Kosygin.

Svetlanov takes all three works by the scruff of the neck and bends them to his benevolent will. The Symphony's first movement involves a nicely balanced interplay of tension, relaxation, imperial triumphalism and shudderingly driven urgency; the latter returns in a wildly boiling cauldron for the finale. The Scherzo quickly accelerates through brisk delight to Polovtsian-style abandon and then yielding and swelling poetry. The ideas - and they're good - keep coming. Take the lazily unfolding yet mesmerising clarinet tune in the big controlled Andante. This is the lonely beauty of the steppe personified. The finale raps along full of lively rhythmic invention, happiness and excitement. It is touched with many moments redolent of the best of Borodin and Rimsky-Korsakov. The sound is warm and the orchestra has that authentic Russian 'zing' and just a hint of Soviet warble. Russia is presented in cocooned sound with every woodwind strand clear. As music it is agreeably discursive - a rhapsody without the narrative keystoned arch of Tamara. Tamara tells a murderous supernatural story of seduction and death as recounted by Mikhail Lermontov. Svetlanov absorbingly colours in the detail with a master's hand adept at these dark Rimskian pages. As an illustration, listen to the marbling of the oily slip-sliding violins at 13:54.

If you must have more modern sound - not that this sounds superannuated or feeble in any way - then try for Svetlanov's re-recording for Hyperion (CDD22030) or Sinaisky's for Chandos.

There was a time when all of the Svetlanov Soviet era Balakirevs could be had on BMG or Svet but those sets have long gone the way of all flesh. This particular combination of three works was reviewed here when it was issued on Regis in 2003. It was welcome then and it is welcome now. Alto's generously detailed three page liner-note is by the excellent James Murray.

Svetlanov has the intoxicating measure of these classic works of Russian nationalism - a fine single disc collection.

Rob Barnett



Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on

Donate and get a free CD


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
(THE Polish label)
Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Senior Editor
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger