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  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    


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Nikolai RIMSKY-KORSAKOV (1844-1908)
Capriccio Espagnol Op. 34 (1887) [15:14]
Le Coq d'Or suite (1908) [25:27]
Russian Easter Festival Overture Op. 36 (1887) [15:09]
Alexander BORODIN (1833-1887)

Polovtsian Dances (1887) [11:16]
London Symphony Orchestra Chorus
London Symphony Orchestra/Antal Dorati
rec. Walthamstow Town Hall, 4 July 1956 (Dances); 5 July 1956 (Coq); 9 June 1959 (Capriccio, Overture). ADD
SACD reviewed in CD mode
Originally issued on LPs SR90122; SR90265
MERCURY LIVING PRESENCE 475 6194 [67:06]

 

Nothing is out of place here. The mix makes for a perfect fit - almost too predictable as a collection. The accent is Russian - firmly rooted in display and melody. The catalogues are full of technical display pieces often for violin. Without melodic interest they are arid and unmemorable except to the player and listeners who are fellow players. Both Rimsky and Borodin blend the merely breathtaking with succulent lyrical material.

The Capriccio ranges from gaudy-rowdy, with plenty of foreground instrumental detail, to the trembling poetry of the Variazioni section; unusually Mercury track the Capriccio into five segments. Dorati does not stint on the colour and solos are assertive - try the violin in Scena e canto gitano (tr. 4). He sets a brisk pace for King Dodon in his Palace (the first movement of the suite from Le Coq d'Or) and I thought he was a little too brisk and matter of fact in the Queen Shemakha movement; no complaints though about the gorgeous cor anglais solo. Overall I prefer Ormandy's version on Sony though technically it does not sound as good. Dorati's Russian Easter Festival is sculpted, vivid and gorgeous (try 4.29 for enthralling magic). Finally we leave Rimsky and move to Borodin. The orchestra is joined by the LSO Chorus for the Polovtsian Dances. The piquant rhythmic material receives caring attention (6.32) adding a buoyancy to the well loved big tunes. These are again taken rather quickly (8:02) but the performance is exultant. The chorus sing in English.

The recording remains spectacular in that sensationally close-up Mercury way. The presentation is good and the detailed sound is unfailingly engaging.

Rob Barnett



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