Nikolai RIMSKY-KORSAKOV (1844-1908) Dubinushka (1905-6) [4.44]
Suite from The Golden Cockerel (compiled Glazunov and Steinberg) (1907) [30.01]
Suite from The Snow Maiden (1881) [8.27] Pan Voyevoda: Nocturne; Polonaise (1903) [10.48] The Maid of Pskov: In the woods; Tsar's Hunt and Storm (1871) [7.58] Russian Easter Festival Overture (1888) [14.18]
USSR Symphony Orchestra,
Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra/Evgeni Svetlanov
rec. Moscow? 1971, 1985, ADD/DDD ALTO ALC1345 [76.54]
All the stars are in the right alignment here: Svetlanov,
two great Soviet orchestras of the 1970s and 1980s and a tightly packed
budget price disc. You might take exception to the slight glare of the
sound but in return these twelve tracks deliver full throttle in brilliance
and gripping imagination. This conductor does not race - unlike his
breathtaking teacher Nikolai Golovanov. He takes the slower episodes
very broadly but it never descends to routine.
The music is iridescent whether in fairy-tale fantasy or in sardonic
mode. The latter can be heard in The Golden Cockerel suite
where Rimsky is almost Prokofiev-like. In this suite, and in Rimsky's
other major works, I still hold firm in my loyalty to the plush deep-pile
Gobelin imagery of Ormandy's Philadelphia on Sony
but Svetlanov is no also-ran.
The digital clarity of Dubinushka and Cockerel contrasts
with the brightness, warmth and 'surface' of the analogue
Snow Maiden and Voyevoda tracks. After these come
the Pskov extracts: fancy-filled digital transparency. The
Russian Easter Festival Overture stands head and shoulders
above the other works here in its concentration, conviction and cohesion.
If you are in the market for a selection of the theatre music this remains
an anthology to beat, stiffened by the Russian Easter Festival Overture.
This collection first appeared on Regis.
Since then there have appeared some excellent contenders including Schwarz
There is a comparable Ansermet
collection but he remains a lower-key choice on this occasion.
James Murray's liner-notes are well worth reading.
Music-making that is brightly lit and exciting … sumptuous yet
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