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Alexander BORODIN (1833-1887)
Symphony No.3 in A minor (unfinished; opus posthumous) (1883-87) [19:40]
Petite Suite; for piano (1885) orchestrated (1889) by Alexander GLAZUNOV (1865-1936) [29:23]
In the Steppes of Central Asia – A Musical Picture (1880) [9:15]
Prince Igor – Overture (1887) [10:18]
USSR Symphony Orchestra/Evgeni Svetlanov
rec. Moscow 1963 (Prince Igor Overture), 1966 (In the Steppes of Central Asia), 1983 (Symphony) and 1985 (Petite Suite)
MELODIYA MEL CD 10 00155 [68:27]


 

This is the companion to the 1966 and 1983 recordings of the First and Second Symphonies, also recently restored by Melodiya MEL CD 10 00154 [review]. The dates in the case of this release however are even more various, starting with the 1963 Prince Igor Overture and ending with the 1985 recording of the Petite Suite. An identical compilation was put out by Melodiya, circa 1992-93, on SUCD 10 00155.

Attention will naturally fall on the unfinished Third Symphony of which two movements exist. With his sense of dynamism, colour and a fairly elastic control of tempi Svetlanov proves a memorable exponent of the symphonic torso. The winds are especially beguiling in their plangency and feeling in the opening movement. The second is dynamic, rhythmically virile. The brass, without becoming coarse or blatant, lend their masculine surety to the proceedings, but there’s real affection in the phrasing of the strings. There are no half measures in this kind of playing; it’s bold, powerful, full of feeling and more often than not hard to resist.

The Petite Suite was originally written for piano in 1885 and was orchestrated by Glazunov four years later. There are seven movements. In A Monastery builds inexorably to a powerful climax half way through then dissolves into powerful Bachian organ cadences. There’s a big-boned and cavorting Mazurka, which contrasts aptly with the succeeding one – an altogether lighter and more diaphanous affair. Dreams is romantic, full of warm lyricism and especially nocturnal winds. And the Finale is a bustly tripartite affair - there’s a brisk and a horn and cello flecked Nocturne, full of rich cantilena . Then we have the two best-known works in expert, malleable and dynamic performances. In the Steppes of Central Asia is particularly fine – the winds play with superb eloquence

There are plenty of alternatives of course. Of some of the best, the National Philharmonic and Loris Tjeknavorian [BMG-Sony] are recommendable in the Third Symphony; Järvi and the Gothenburg [DG] have a Svetlanov-duplicating programme well worth seeking out.


Jonathan Woolf

 


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