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Evgeny Svetlanov Conducts Nikolai Rimsky-korsakov


Release Date: 03/10/2009 
Label:  Svetlanov Foundation   Catalog #: 2   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Conductor:  Yevgeny Svetlanov
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Russian State Academic Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 6 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

The essential Rimsky box: colourful, intense, incisive, grave, effervescent.

A blockbusting six disc set of Svetlanov’s Rimsky recordings is bound to be of interest to collectors even when, as here, it’s a compilation of well known performances garnered over a two decade span and not a revealing tranche of rare performances. Svetlanov was the man for the totality of this music – for the processional and the sumptuous, for the glittering and the heady, the musical picture and the sombre portrait, the folk-laced dance and the ballroom swirl. If you want a Man for all Rimsky Seasons then you simply call for Svetlanov.

He was certainly the man for the First Symphony in the 1884 version, the second. Once past
Read more the Schumannesque introduction we find revealed a strong, powerful and sinewy commitment, pensive in the slow movement and with brio to match in the finale – the conductor generates a delightful lilt and then unleashes a characteristically virile dash to the tape. Antar is the other symphonic statement on the first disc in the 1875 version. This is a wonderfully atmospheric performance, imbued with fine tangy winds, a dramatic percussion section (in the Allegro risoluto in particular) and in the finale a gauzy, hazy, introduction that keeps the sense of mystery running high.

Even Svetlanov can’t quite convince one that the Third Symphony is without its longeurs. The first movement is badly over extended but there is such delightful writing in the Scherzo and in the rising and cresting of the slow movement that one easily submits to the blandishments of conductor and composer. Not one to spurn a decisive climax he certainly wrings all he can from the torrent that ends the symphony. The rest of the disc is taken up with overtures and intermezzi – all characterised with care, with a fine ear for balance and with verve.

The third CD conjoins a famous pair of performances. There are quite a few surviving performances of Scheherazade but this is the esteemed 1969 recording. He always seems to have taken the opening broadly so the much later live LSO/BBC Legends performance was very much part of the continuum of his Scheherazade conducting and especially when it came to tempo relationships. Back on home ground we find him measured and watchful but when those climaxes come they are hammered home – even bludgeoned. The characteristically braying trumpets add their own beleaguered vehemence to the proceedings. He’s emphatic in the second movement, insistent on some stolid-sounding paragraphs but ones that soon open out. The trombone principal had a big, fat tone reminiscent of current jazz trombone player Gary Valente in its moose-toned sleaze. Neither he nor the trumpet principal made any attempt at tone blending in their sections and the results are, strictly speaking, in that respect chaotic. But that’s outweighed, indeed weirdly enhanced, by the charismatic passion and opulent theatricality of the playing, the rubato – always subtle, never functional – and the robust masculinity of approach. The solo violin adheres to the expressive theatricality of the performance – quite florid in places as well. No messing around either in the full-blooded Capriccio Espagnol – and nothing apologetic about it either.

The fourth disc is dominated by suites. One simply sits back and admires the rhythmic brio of the Cracovienne from Pan Voyevoda or the veiled warmth of the Nocturne, with its little reminisce of Vltava at the end. The following Mazurka is wittily suggestive. The suite from the Snow Maiden is short but terrific. The bird-calls, the lithe exciting phrasing and string weight, the colossal personality … all this makes for twelve minutes of intoxicating fun. The virtuosic persuasiveness of the State Academic Symphony Orchestra – sometimes overlooked – stands revealed in the excerpts from The Golden Cockerel; listen to the adrenalin saturated accelerando in Tsar Dodon on the March for starters.

There are more suites and processions in the penultimate disc, the brassy fanfares of which are a tonic in the excerpts from The Tale of Tsar Sultan. The Introduction to Act II had me seriously wondering about Svetlanov as a conductor of that famous Russophile Janá?ek. He certainly performed the composer’s works but does anything survive on disc? It would be fascinating to hear. Every solo fiddler’s favourite, the Act I introduction to The Golden Cockerel, is played en masse with suitable feeling There’s a wealth of melodic interest to be mined in Kitezh – and it duly is. Frisky strings add their allure to the Introduction to May Night abetted by luscious dance rhythms and prominent winds.

The final disc offers simply a reprise of the many delights and pleasures of the preceding five. The Russian Overture on Three Russian Themes is exciting but subtly paced whilst the Easter Festival Overture exudes nobility and gravity at every step. A fruity mezzo – rather torrid in the accepted Russian way – sings From Homer with equally fervent colleagues. That heroically bronzed tribute to M. Belayev, On the Tomb, emerges with unstoppable grandeur. But Svetlanov is careful not to overplay the easy lyricism of the Sinfonietta on Russian Themes – which emerges all the stronger for it.

The fine notes compress a lot of detail into a relatively short space. Recording detail is woolly and inaccurate. And I’m not saying that you’ll never need another Rimsky disc as long as your organs keep working – there are obvious examples where you can augment – but I can say that this is now the essential Rimsky box; comprehensive, brilliant, colourful, intense, incisive, effervescent, grave and celebratory.

-- Jonathan Woolf, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

1.
Symphony no 1 in E minor, Op. 1 by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Conductor:  Yevgeny Svetlanov
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Russian State Academic Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: Russia 
2.
Symphony no 2, Op. 9 "Antar" by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Conductor:  Yevgeny Svetlanov
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Russian State Academic Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1868/1875; Russia 
3.
Symphony no 3 in C major, Op. 32 by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Conductor:  Yevgeny Svetlanov
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Russian State Academic Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1866-1873; Russia 
4.
Boyarinya Vera Sheloga, Op. 54: Overture by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Conductor:  Yevgeny Svetlanov
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Russian State Academic Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1898; Russia 
5.
Maid of Pskov "Ivan the Terrible": Overture by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Conductor:  Yevgeny Svetlanov
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Russian State Academic Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1868/1892; Russia 
6.
Maid of Pskov "Ivan the Terrible": Act I - Intermezzo by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Conductor:  Yevgeny Svetlanov
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Russian State Academic Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1868/1892; Russia 
7.
Maid of Pskov "Ivan the Terrible": Act II - Intermezzo by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Conductor:  Yevgeny Svetlanov
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Russian State Academic Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1868/1892; Russia 
8.
Maid of Pskov "Ivan the Terrible": Hunt and Storm Music by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Conductor:  Yevgeny Svetlanov
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Russian State Academic Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1868/1892; Russia 
9.
Scheherazade, Op. 35 by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Conductor:  Yevgeny Svetlanov
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Russian State Academic Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1888; Russia 
10.
Capriccio espagnol, Op. 34 by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Conductor:  Yevgeny Svetlanov
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Russian State Academic Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1887; Russia 
11.
Fantasia on Serbian themes, Op. 6 by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Conductor:  Yevgeny Svetlanov
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Russian State Academic Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: Russia 
12.
Pan Voyevoda: Suite, Op. 59 by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Conductor:  Yevgeny Svetlanov
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Russian State Academic Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1904; Russia 
13.
Snow Maiden: Suite by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Conductor:  Yevgeny Svetlanov
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Russian State Academic Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1880/1895; Russia 
14.
Golden Cockerel: Suite by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Conductor:  Yevgeny Svetlanov
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Russian State Academic Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1907; Russia 
15.
Sadko, Op. 5 by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Conductor:  Yevgeny Svetlanov
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Russian State Academic Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1867/1892; Russia 
16.
Tale of Tsar Saltan: Suite, Op. 57 by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Conductor:  Yevgeny Svetlanov
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Russian State Academic Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1903; Russia 
17.
Mlada: Suite - Procession of the nobles by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Conductor:  Yevgeny Svetlanov
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Russian State Academic Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1903; Russia 
18.
Golden Cockerel: Suite - Introduction by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Conductor:  Yevgeny Svetlanov
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Russian State Academic Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1906-1907; Russia 
19.
Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh and the Maiden Fevroniya: Massacre at Kerzhentz by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Conductor:  Yevgeny Svetlanov
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Russian State Academic Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1903-1905; Russia 
20.
Sadko: Overture by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Conductor:  Yevgeny Svetlanov
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Russian State Academic Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1894-1896; Russia 
21.
May Night: Overture by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Conductor:  Yevgeny Svetlanov
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Russian State Academic Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1878-1879; Russia 
22.
Tsar's Bride: Overture by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Conductor:  Yevgeny Svetlanov
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Russian State Academic Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1898; Russia 
23.
Overture on Russian themes, Op. 28 by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Conductor:  Yevgeny Svetlanov
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Russian State Academic Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1866/1880; Russia 
24.
Russian Easter Festival Overture, Op. 36 by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Conductor:  Yevgeny Svetlanov
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Russian State Academic Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1888; Russia 
25.
Iz Gomera, Op. 60 by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Conductor:  Yevgeny Svetlanov
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Russian State Academic Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1901; Russia 
26.
On the tomb, Op. 61 by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Conductor:  Yevgeny Svetlanov
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Russian State Academic Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1904; Russia 
27.
Dubinushka, Op. 62 by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Conductor:  Yevgeny Svetlanov
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Russian State Academic Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1905-1906; Russia 
28.
Sinfonietta on Russian themes in A minor, Op. 31 by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Conductor:  Yevgeny Svetlanov
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Russian State Academic Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1880-1884; Russia 

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