Russian Concert Favourites
Nicolai RIMSKY-KORSAKOV (1844-1908)
Mlada: Procession of the Nobles (1890) [5:02] ¹
Mikhail GLINKA (1804-1857)
Valse-Fantasie (1839) [7:55] ¹
Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)
Suite No.1 in D - Marche Miniature (1879) [2:08] ¹
Swan Lake - Waltz (1875) [7:04]
Alexander BORODIN (1833-1887)
String Quartet No.2 in D - Notturno (1881), orchestrated by Nikolai Tcherepnin [9:30]
Alexander GLAZUNOV (1865-1936)
Concert Waltz No.1 in D major, Op.47 (1893) [8:42]
Stenka Razin - symphonic poem (1885) [16:14]
Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953)
Lieutenant Kijé Suite (1934) - excerpts; Wedding of Kijé [2:46]: Troika [2:36]: Burial of Kijé [6:00]
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra ¹, Philharmonia Orchestra/ Anatole Fistoulari
rec. March and July 1956 and March 1957, Kingsway Hall, London and November 1958, Abbey Road, London ¹
GUILD GHCD2391 [68:45]

What a terrific conductor Fistoulari could be and how perfect are his tempi in this selection. The recordings were made in London between 1956 and 1958, with the Philharmonia and Royal Philharmonic Orchestras in top form. Kingsway Hall was the venue for the Philharmonia sessions and Abbey Road for the RPO, and both lend appropriate lustre to the proceedings. The recital was chosen to reflect music from the country of the conductor’s birth.
Fistoulari (1907-95) is possibly best remembered for his Russian music whether ballet, or not, or as a good accompanist. His dearest wish, in terms of recording the Russian repertoire, was to set down his version of Rachmaninoff’s Second Symphony. Maybe the BBC could oblige with an archive studio performance, if one still exists, because Fistoulari’s wish was not to be granted.
As with the first item, Rimsky’s Procession of the Nobles from Mlada, this disc is itself a procession of one delightful recording after another. The rhythmic vitality he locates in Rimsky’s piece is typical of his bracing and idiomatic musicianship, a fact reinforced by his deftly characterised Glinka, in which Beecham’s orchestra provides the charismatic wind and horn playing. The last of the three items with the RPO is Tchaikovsky’s Marche Miniature from the Suite No.1 in D, another superior example indeed.
The remainder of the disc is given over to his Philharmonia recordings, originally released on HMV SXLP 30119. The world premiere recording of Nikolai Tcherepnin’s arrangement for full orchestra of Borodin’s Notturno, from the Second String Quartet, was given here. The refulgent romanticism that glows from within must give some indication of how he would have approached the Rachmaninoff slow movement. The balance between the dictates of lissom inflexion and dramatic intensity are reconciled in so apparently obvious a piece as the waltz from Swan Lake - which in its way indicates yet again why he was so formidable a ballet conductor. There are two pieces by Glazunov, fortunately. The Concert Waltz No.1 is full of all the grace and charm you could wish for, whilst Stenka Razin gets a fabulously exciting reading, full of dramatic flair and orchestral discipline. The Philharmonia sounds as if it really means it. Finally there are three excerpts from the suite from Lieutenant Kijé which exude so much colour and sentiment that you wish Fistoulari had recorded the full suite, and more much more Prokofiev besides.
The notes are fine and the re-mastering excellent. This is a terrific disc, and it fully reflects Fistoulari’s energy, creativity, and stirring musicianship.
Jonathan Woolf  

A terrific disc fully reflecting Fistoulari’s energy, creativity and stirring musicianship.

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