Notes and Editorial Reviews
Surprisingly few versions of Scheherazade come with a coupling, and though Glazunov's Stenka Razin has its moments of vulgarity (with the Song of the Volga boatmen a recurrent theme) it is good to have it as a bonus here, persuasively and excitingly presented alongside an account of the Rimsky-Korsakov that stands comparison with any available. On recorded sound the new Chandos easily outshines both the outstanding versions of Scheherazade I have listed—the analogue recording for Kondrashin on Philips, which though spacious and well-balanced begins to show its age in tuttis, and the HMV digital which conveys the power and excitement of Muti's reading but is relatively coarse.
Järvi's performance may not be so highpowered
as Muti's (which regularly thrills you in the way it goes over the top) and not so weighty as Kondrashin's, but in its way it is just as persuasive, with Järvi just as subtle in his control of transitions and in his build-up of tension. As with Kondrashin one has the vivid sense of a story being told, drawing the threads of this programme work together, and the leader of the SNO, Edwin Palin, in his concertante solos makes a formidable rival even for Kondrashin's masterly Herman Krebbers and is purer and more tender than the Philadelphia leader, Norman Carol. Other solo work from the orchestra's principals is excellent too (the oboe in particular), and the spaciousness of the Chandos recording gives refinement to the SNO string sound which consistently stands comparison with that of its distinguished rivals. In the hushed coda at the very end of the last movement Järvi more clearly than Muti, or even Kondrashin, finds a resolution after the excitement of the main Allegro, which at high speed lacks little in energy and bite.
If anything the sound in the Glazunov piece is even fuller and more vivid, and there the players seem even more committed, quite uninhibited by the brassiness of much of the writing. In such a performance this quarter-hour piece makes an attractive and colourful bonus, outshining the relatively few previous accounts we have had. Written when Glazunov, Rimsky-Korsakov's favourite pupil, was only 20, it has all the energy of youth and thrives from uninhibited treatment like this. The recording lives up to the superlative standards set by Chandos in its recordings of the SNO, full and spacious, atmospheric yet detailed.
-- Edward Greenfield, Gramophone [2/1987]
Works on This Recording
Scheherazade, Op. 35 by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Royal Scottish National Orchestra
Written: 1888; Russia
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