Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Music Webmaster
Len Mullenger:

Antar - Symphonic Suite (1868) 29.19

Caucasian Sketches (1894) 22.02

Russian Sailors' Dance (1927) 3.26
Utah SO/Maurice Abravanel rec 1967, Salt Lake City, Utah

Abravanel is very good in this music - crackling with energy tempered with a tender way with the great melodies. Antar is a neglected prize among Rimsky's works ranking with Sheherazade. The orchestra is brilliant, hoarse and visceral in the brass, flighty and impetuous wind section (the brilliance of flute clearly inspired Glazunov in his ballet The Seasons) and only among the strings which could have benefited from a shade more warmth and tonal allure are there the slightest reservations. The ideal is to be found in BMG-Melodiya's twofer of the three Rimsky symphonies with Sheherazade. The Caucasian Sketches is a popular work of which enigmatically there are few recordings.

The Caucasian Sketches have These You Have Loved status because of its last movement Procession of the Sardar but the big first movement In The Mountain Pass is wistful, In the Village exotically rhapsodic from sinuous (recalling the tar and duduk of Georgia) to a quicker and irresistible dance tempo, In the Mosque rather nondescript but in the Procession is established the idiom for a thousand Hollywood triumphal and barbarous marches. From such quarries did Jarre mine the music for Lawrence of Arabia and Rozsa for El Cid.

The Gliere is a fun piece that stamps emphatically and in its opening measures is clearly influenced by Mussorgsky's Pictures from an Exhibition.

As an inexpensive single disc collection of less obvious Russian repertoire this is difficult to top. I recommend it strongly.


Rob Barnett




Rob Barnett

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