Even with 15 other versions of Rimsky's masterpiece of orchestral virtuosity to choose from — some in the top flight — this was recognized from the first as one of the most rewarding, thanks largely to Krebbers's exceptionally sweet, gently appealing and bewitching personification of the story - spinning Scheherazade and to Kondrashin's skill in pacing and shaping movements as a whole, relating the diverse tempos and building up tension and dynamics by careful control so as to create climaxes of thrilling intensity and power. the 'shipwreck' finale, in particular, was overwhelming; and this was achieved without resorting to the ultra - fast tempos adopted by some conductors to whip up excitement. The Concertgebouw's crisp, sonorous and sensitive playing (full marks both to the splendid strings and to the wind soloists) was caught with the utmost fidelity; but the Compact Disc's total exclusion even of minimal extraneous background now marks a still further improvement, as can be judged by the dead silence against which Scheherazade's pleadings are heard. The final coda is ravishingly beautiful.
“Gergiev conducts a sweeping performance, with a typically superb cast of the Kirov's revival years, full of rising stars - Diadkova, Ognovenko, Bezzubenkov and the superb character tenor Gassiev. Charming also is the staging, reproduced from airy, painterly 1920s sets. Museum opera, maybe; but then museums are there to preserve treasures. And this is an absolute gem.”(Music Magazine)
Opera lies at the heart of Rimsky-Korsakov’s colourful idiom, but performances are few and far between; this realisation of his penultimate and grandest stage work is a very rare and special experience. Kitezh is known as ‘the Russian Parsifal’, which encapsulates its mystical flavour and steady unfolding of a legend of redemption. A largely Russian cast (headed by the stunning Svetlana Ignatovich) and production team works within a set that moves from opulent naturalistic scenery to some startling theatrical coups worthy of Rimsky’s underrated dramatic instincts.
According to classical music specialists, a good performance of Scheherazade requires a top notch orchestra, great conducting, and outstanding individual performance, as well as timing since there is a definite storyline to follow. Flaws on any orchestral department, will be "merciless exposed" along the score. The Chicago Symphony, to many, the most european sounding of all american orchestras, meets all these requirements, as does Ozawa, who knows this score well. It was my first recording of the work and I always go back to it, since has a perfectly well chosen tempo, the solo violin is sweet and umpretentious, and the sound although not as dramatic as others, offers a very "symphonic" account, which always satisfies. The coupling of Borodin is more than adequate and great music too.
Since it was founded, the Borusan Istanbul Philharmonic Orchestra has worked to develop not only as a symphony orchestra but as a showcase for music from different traditions – a multicultural mosaic where each little stone is carefully placed with the utmost respect for its neighbour, making a unique contribution to its surroundings. Our first two CDs have reflected this, combining music of composers from different backgrounds with a similar musical language. We now embark on another exploration of the eastern musical roots of Europe in the late 19th and first half of the 20th century, identifying elements of the eastern side of the Bosphorus which have influenced the Western cultural background of most of these composers.
It’s splendid that these Nixa discs are once more back in the catalogue. I believe they saw some life back in the late 1980s with transfers by Mike Dutton but those have, in any case, long been unavailable. Scherchen takes on rather Stokowski-like repertoire here – Berlioz, Rimsky and Tchaikovsky and in the case of second composer, certainly, he proves a formidable guide. His Berlioz has divided critics for half a century and that’s not likely to change, however attractive the presentation – and it is extremely attractive with full colour artwork depicting the original LP sleeves, some excellent photographs and useful ancillary material in the form of critical commentary. This is one of Tahra’s increasingly valuable “book” sets – the four CDs and text and artwork housed in book form, ten inches tall.