…Kunzel's Ruslan and Ludmilla overture is suitably festive, even if it doesn't quite achieve the breathless intensity exhibited by Bernstein or Pletnev. But then, being "definitive" isn't the point of this album–enjoyable music-making is, and in that respect it's a triumph. Especially so as the Cincinnati Pops plays masterfully and with great enthusiasm throughout the program. (Listen to the bold trombones in Mussorgsky's Polonaise or to the singing strings in Spartacus.) Telarc captures it all in its signature vivid, high-impact sound. Yes, I know you already have a couple of Russian favorites discs in your collection, but this new Telarc release is special enough that you'll want to make room for it.
The Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, founded in 1977 from the Cincinnaty Symphony Orchestra, plays this music under the baton of Erich Kunzel (1935-2009), the 'Prince of Pop'. The CSO has published over a hundred albums, with sales of over ten million copies, and has achieved a Grammy Award in 1998. This work, set on Russia, offers fifteen classic tracks using a repertoire of great masters such as Glinka, Prokofiev, Borodin, Rimsky-Korsakov, Khachaturian, Tchaikovsky, Mussorgsky and others.