This compilation covers 20 years of live recordings made by conductor Yevgeny Mravinsky and the then-named Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra for Erato. Mravinsky led that orchestra for nearly 50 years, from 1938 until his death. His last recording was that of Shostakovich's Symphony No. 12, made in 1984, found on Disc 3 here. His interpretations of Shostakovich and Tchaikovsky were highly regarded, so it's not surprising that several of their symphonies are here. There are also symphonies by Mozart and Beethoven in this set; tone poems by Tchaikovsky and Mussorgsky; and orchestral excerpts from operas by Wagner, Glinka, and Glazunov. The final disc contains a rare recording of a rehearsal led by Mravinsky, something few outsiders were ever allowed to witness. Even though he was an elder statesman of Russian music at the time of these recordings, there is still precision and energy in his interpretations.
The Toys of Men is a mature work from an artist who’s got nothing left to prove, and is the closest thing to a fusion album Clarke’s released since the inconsistent collaborative effort Vertu (Epic, 1999). A far more satisfying disc, it’s a career consolidation of sorts, with Clarke also delivering a series of lyrical solo acoustic bass miniatures, referencing past efforts while, at the same time, playing with considerably more restraint.
Composers: Borodin, Glinka, Kabalevskij, Musorgskij, Prokofiev, Rachmaninov, Rimsky-Korsakov, Rubinstein, Stravinskij, Tchaikovsky