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Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

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Len Mullenger:

Taras Bulba ballet suite (1952)
Rasputin ballet suite (1990)
Odessa PO/Hobart Earle
rec Odessa, June 1996
ASV CD DCA 988 [56.27]

ASV's list of recordings has shown pioneering spirit and risk-taking from its earliest years. Its Soviet and Slav catalogue breaks much new ground and does so with flair using local orchestras and conductors.

Gliere's Bulba ballet suite, running some 34 minutes, is old-fashioned for 1952. Borodin, Tchaikovsky and Glazunov all serve as models. The music is never less than pleasing. Taras Awaits his Sons is specially affecting as also is the heat-hazed sway of the baking steppe in The Boundless Ukrainian Steppe. Gopak has that whirligig quality we know so well - how easy to visualise the Bolshoi dancers. The suite ends in a wildly abandoned dance for the Zaporozhi.

 This was the last of Gliere's ballets. The earlier, more famous counterparts were The Bronze Horseman and The Sheep's Spring. Taras was never performed.

The Stankovych ballet suite is in four movements. The grand adagio is of awesome amplitude and breeds an heroic horn theme. The absurdist Galop takes us back to Satie's machine age 1920s - raucous and rambunctious in line with Parade and Love of Three Oranges. The Solo for Orchestra suggests a great lake with strings of a radiant luminosity paralleling Valentin Silvestrov's fifth symphony. Altogether a most striking series of pictures and a more approachable introduction to Stankovich than the Marco Polo set of symphonies.

A safely recommendable collection, if short on time, Recorded with resonance and impact.

Rob Barnett

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