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Rimsky-Korsakov: Capriccio Espagnol, Overtures / Schwarz, Seattle Symphony

Rimsky-korsakov / Seattle Sym / Schwarz
Release Date: 09/27/2011 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 8572788   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Conductor:  Gerard Schwarz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Seattle Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 7 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Here is yet another brilliant, glittering collection of Rimsky-Korsakov orchestral music, made all the more appealing by the intelligently planned program. The two biggest, most popular works, Capriccio espagnol and the Russian Easter Overture, bracket the rest of the program--a delightful selection of opera overtures, Dubinushka, and the rarely heard but lovely Overture on Russian Themes. Two of these, the overtures to May Night and The Tsar's Bride, are quite substantial on their own, and they deserve to be played more frequently.

The performances, as we have come to expect from these forces, are very good. There was a moment, at the launch of the coda to the "Fandango asturiano" in the Capriccio espagnol, where it
Read more sounded as though Gerard Schwarz wouldn't turn up the heat sufficiently, but after a few seconds that worry vanished. Certainly there's no lack of excitement in this Russian Easter Overture, or in any of the other pieces. Throughout the program the orchestra plays with admirable discipline and vitality, and the sonics are crisp and bright, like the performances themselves. A useful and very attractive release.

--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com

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Familiar as the pieces in this collection may be, the performance, sound quality and interpretation stands out for the vitality, creativity, and resonance that comes with this recording. Under Schwarz’s direction a well-known piece like Rimsky-Korsakov’s Russian Easter Festival Overture sounds fresh because of the details that emerge within the conductor’s fine conception of the entire structure. The opening evokes the solo violin passage in the composer’s Scheherezade - available from Schwarz on another Naxos CD with the Tale of Tsar Saltan Suite - albeit on a smaller scale, and sets up the passages that follow as various sections of the Overture emerge like strands of a well-considered narrative. In this performance the dark and reedy woodwind timbres are distinctly articulated, while the brass have a burnished sound that resonates clearly. These and others details fit well into the Schwarz’s dramatic pacing that benefits from sensitivity to the dynamics. This performance has the excitement that comes with listening to the Russian Easter Festival Overture for the first time.

Schwarz offers a similar reading of the atmospheric Capriccio Espagnol, a piece that still succeeds in conveying a sense of Spanish locales. Here the famous Alborada sounds fresh and vital, with repetitions offering the kind of unity that occurs with the Promenade of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition. Schwarz elicits a sense of bravura without arriving at anything overblown or out of character with the rest of the piece. The element of contrast that is part of the suite allows the various scorings to have a sense of identity, while the content benefits from the solid phrasing and appropriate tempos that Schwarz contributes to the whole. The fitting subtlety of the second movement, the set of Variations, is welcome for its pacing and resonant sonorities. Here the block chords give a sense of the finely balanced sound of the Seattle Symphony under Schwarz’s leadership. All in all this is a memorable performance for various reasons, particularly the Scena e canto Gitano, which also makes use of a prominent solo violin part. Even the set-piece of the Finale has a sense of drama sometimes absent elsewhere.

The other works on this recording also merit attention for the details that emerge in all the performances, as with the fine rendering of the dissonant passages of the Overture to The Maid of Pskov. Here the full string sound provides the basis for its quickly shifting and characterful palette of orchestral colors. At times the accompaniment figures draw as much attention as the thematic material, and this contributes to the convincing effect. It is similar to the result in the Overture on Russian Themes, in which familiar themes are articulated eloquently and without caricature. The “Slava” tune that Rimsky-Korsakov’s colleague Mussorgsky used in the opera Boris Godunov becomes a generating idea in this Russian showpiece.

Overall this recording is admirable for the exemplary performances of these overtures and other popular pieces.

-- James L. Zychowicz, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

1.
Tsar's Bride: Overture by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Conductor:  Gerard Schwarz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Seattle Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1898; Russia 
2.
Russian Easter Festival Overture, Op. 36 by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Conductor:  Gerard Schwarz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Seattle Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1888; Russia 
3.
Overture on Russian themes, Op. 28 by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Conductor:  Gerard Schwarz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Seattle Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1866/1880; Russia 
4.
May Night: Overture by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Conductor:  Gerard Schwarz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Seattle Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1878-1879; Russia 
5.
Maid of Pskov "Ivan the Terrible": Overture by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Conductor:  Gerard Schwarz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Seattle Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1868/1892; Russia 
6.
Dubinushka, Op. 62 by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Conductor:  Gerard Schwarz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Seattle Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1905-1906; Russia 
7.
Capriccio espagnol, Op. 34 by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Conductor:  Gerard Schwarz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Seattle Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1887; Russia 

Sound Samples

Capriccio espagnol, Op. 34: I. Alborada
Capriccio espagnol, Op. 34: II. Variations
Capriccio espagnol, Op. 34: III. Alborada
Capriccio espagnol, Op. 34: IV. Scena e canto gitano
Capriccio espagnol, Op. 34: V. Fandango asturiano
Mayskaya noch' (May Night): Overture
Tsarskaya nevesta (The Tsar's Bride): Overture
Overture on 3 Russian Themes, Op. 28
Pskovityanka (The Maid of Pskov): Overture
Dubinushka (The little oak stick), Op. 62
Svetliy prazdnik (Russian Easter Festival), Op. 36

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 Exuberant playing September 10, 2012 By Christian  B. (Price, UT) See All My Reviews "I had never heard Rimsky-Korsakov's Cappricio Espagnol, and was surpised at how much I liked it. Very melodic, flashy and fun. Best experienced at high volume. I think Schwarz really gets a lot of exuberance out of his players. Very fine playing on all of these tunes. The Russian Easter Overture is intriguing and a work of some depth." Report Abuse
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