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Mikhail GLINKA (1804-1857)
Ruslan and Ludmilla (1842): Dances in Naina’s Castle; Eastern Dances in Black Sea Castle [22:21]
Dance for violin and orchestra [8:23]
Dance for oboe and cello with orchestra [7:54]
Andante Cantabile and Rondo [11:50]
Majestic Polonaise [4:35]
Ivan Susanin (1836): Valse; Krakowiak; Mazurka [16:22]
Kamarinskaya (1848) [6:34]
Moscow Radio Symphony Orchestra/Mark Ermler (Ruslan); Boris Demchenko (Dance; Andante); Vladimir Fedoseyev (Susanin); Konstantin Ivanov (Kamarinskaya); Ilmar Lapins (Polonaise)
rec. Moscow, 1982-1994. ADD/DDD.
REGIS RRC1242 [78:01]

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I am a fan of Regis and if you haven't yet discovered the label you should be too. They have made a speciality of reissuing deleted material and constantly prove that they have all the right connections. Look at this collection: almost eighty minutes of Russian-sourced dance music by Glinka and all in vivacious, colourful and spatially well-upholstered recordings.
The two great operas are represented: Ivan Susanin (aka A Life for the Tsar) and Ruslan and Ludmila. The Tchaikovsky ballet recordings conducted by Mark Ermler (1932-2002) are already well known. Here we are treated to the pointedly delicate, airily danceable and charming music from Ruslan. Ermler is a natural as we hear in those squeezed squeaky notes and fermata in and around 7:32 in the dance sequence at Naina's Castle. The Eastern Dances pick up on the oriental element in Slav music. Then comes the Paganini-style slyness, bel canto and chuckle of the Dance for violin and orchestra. Also unusual is the Dance for oboe and cello with orchestra. Demchenko is a gracious conductor creating space for these Bellinian confections drizzled over with a Russian accent. He is again the conductor for the Andante Cantabile and Rondo.  Again if you like those romantic era concertante pieces by Bellini and Weber you will lap these up. They show where Rimsky drew his grateful inspiration for his works for woodwind and wind orchestra.
So far these recordings have come from 1992-94. The last from this era is the Ilmar Lapins-conducted Majestic Polonaise complete with its satisfyingly squally and brazen brass.
From track seven to the end the recordings are from 1982-84. Leningrad-born Fedoseyev (b. 1932) has as good a feeling for the dance as Ermler. His Susanin Valse, Krakowiak and Mazurka are spirited and eager and are not lacking spit, starch and polish.
The oldest item here is from 1982. Konstantin Ivanov (1907-1984) recorded Miaskovsky's Fifth Symphony which for me remains the first recommendation despite its now raw sound. He recorded extensively and his Glazunov is well worth tracking down for reissue - his The Seasons is grand and sensitive - even better than Svetlanov. This Kamarinskaya, written in Warsaw in 1848, is influenced somewhat by Berlioz whom he had met in 1844. This version was recorded two years before Ivanov's death and is full of life although the sound quality is the least vivacious of the lot.  
This set pairs well with Regis's other Glinka collection on RRC1142, conducted by Svetlanov (see review). You'll find the two famous opera overtures there not here.
Good documentation as well. What more can you ask?
Rob Barnett


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