Regis are a label to
watch. Their ex-USSR line bears a mix
of familiar and exotic fruit. Central
to the present disc is a live Symphonic
Dances from Moscow. It is gorgeously
... even opulently intense. For some
it may be ruled out by the sprinkling
of coughing and chair squeaking. If
you are allergic to such things pass
by on the other side and go for one
of the studio recordings such as Temirkanov's
RCA-BMG or Jansons on EMI. For Temirkanov's
very recent (August 2004) Proms performance
of the Dances with the St Petersburg
Phil the orchestra played as if possessed.
This falls into almost the same category
except that the furious speed of the
final dance troubles even me. There
is vehemence and then there is Svetlanov
in the Grand Hall of the Moscow Conservatoire
on 3 February 1986. There is also the
pitiful decision to damp the final tam-tam
impact when it should resonate like
some warning from a yawning grave. The
playing and the reading are typically
Russian and it is good to hear Svetlanov
in concert taking such chances. The
real sleeper in the Melodiya archive
is the Kondrashin version from 1963.
Svetlanov reminds us of that in the
first two dances. What this amounts
to is a concert event in which the adrenaline
gallops in fury. The experience is stimulating
but in the final analysis is too eccentric
to rank as a library choice. If you
are a Rach-head you will have to add
this to your personal hall of fame.
This Rostislav dates
from Svetlanov's Moscow concerts to
celebrate the Rachmaninov centenary
in 1973. It is an early work dedicated
to Arensky. It had to wait until 1945
for its premiere. Here it is played
within an inch of its life (try 10.03).
The style is somewhere between Balakirev's
Tamar and Tchaikovsky's Hamlet.
There are even atmospheric resonances
with the Erben-inspired tone poems of
Dvořák's last years. The Capriccio
is a mate to Tchaikovsky's Italien
and Rimsky's Espagnol. It
even sounds like Tchaikovsky at one
moment (8.20) and Rimsky the next (13.30).
No half measures from
Svetlanov in Rachmaninov's last concert
work but in the finale it is as if the
vengeful genie has been let out of the
bottle - exhilarating but over the top.
Svetlanov gives the two early works
the best possible helping hand. These
tapes which no one could say lack character
are evenly matched with a good note
from James Murray.