André Previn’s 1970s recordings of the complete Tchaikovsky…

July 11, 2010

André Previn’s 1970s recordings of the complete Tchaikovsky ballets were some of the happiest collaborations with the LSO, and “Rouge et Noir” puts together nearly 150 minutes of well-chosen extracts from Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty and Nutcracker .
Incredibly and the fine 1972 Nutcracker has yet to appear complete on CD (Previn’s RPO remake is a bitter disappointment by comparison) so the generous selection here (including the “Snowflakes Waltz” and the Finale as well as the pieces from the Suite and some other movements) is all we have from a fine set. It is every bit as good as I remember and so are the other two ballets.
Previn conducts the big numbers with a real swagger and the shorter dances are well characterised and beautifully played. The recording is never less than good.
An attractive proposition for anyone seeking substantial highlights at a very reasonable price.()
Finally, an anthology of French orchestral music played by the Orchestre de Paris recorded in 19689.
Barbirolli’s famously self-indulgent late Debussy recordings,La Mer and the Nocturnes and really don’t show the great man at his best and though there is no denying the conviction and enormous affection which sir John brings to these pieces. The rest of the programme is conducted by Serge Baudo.
It includes Ravel’s Ma mére l’oye , a very fine performance of the Second Suite from Roussel’s Bacchus et Ariane , Messiaen’s Les Offrandes oubliées and Fauré’s Dolly orchestrated by Rabaud),Masques et Bergamasques and Pelléas et Mélisande .
All are well done and though for once EMI’s generosity causes momentary irritation having to change discs half way through Dolly feels rather like a throwback to 78s!
This is an enjoyable collection, even if it does seem to lack the careful planning so evident in the rest of this outstanding series.() [Nigel Simeone]
OLYMPIA’S FASCINATING FEAST
Olympia has perhaps done more than any other company to stimulate interest in the highways and byways of russian music, as is typified by six of their most recent releases.
With such relatively unfamiliar names such as Smolsky, Glebov, and Kapustin adorning the liner booklets and this is clearly a feast for the inquisitive. (All the discs here are £10.99, as re all Olympia CDs).
Olympia’s new “Belorussian Series” gets off to a cracking start with a pair of discs, one featuring the music of Dmitry Smolsky () and the other, Yevgeni Glebov ().
Smolsky has composed in most of the major genres, although the Olympia selection concentrates solely on his orchestral output.
Opening with a breezy Kabalevskian Overture , Smolsky’s self-avowed folk origins come to the fore in the highly distinctive First Dulcimer Concerto , composed in a broadly neo-classical style (typically spiced with an occasional dash of bi-tonality), but imbued with an expressive force which transcends the often impersonal stance that such an approach can result in.
The solo dulcimer player, Eugene Gladkov, is clearly a virtuoso of the first order.
The ghost of Shostakovich hangs heavily over the Cello Concerto , although the Sixth Symphony , with its barrenpointed landscapes clearly points more in the direction of Kancheli.
The ten minute Violin Concerto , and expertly structured work in one single, continuous movement and relies heavily on the frequent repetition of concise thematic fragments.
Performances are authoritative and committed and the recordings largely satisfactory (bar the strangely muffled sound in the Sixth Symphony ), and the left and right channels appear to have been reversed (as in the Glebov below).
Nonetheless and the music demands attention, and those in search of something rewarding but well off the beaten track and need not hesitate unduly.
Multi-faceted influences have also clearly been poured into the Glebov melting pot, although he appears to have assimilated these with rather greater surety than Smolsky, who is very much the stylistic chameleon in comparison.
Glebov’s Fifth Symphony opens with an introduction featuring a solo tuba, low in its register, winding a motto theme over the distant rumbling of a bass drum.
The wild and rhythmic drive of the first subject owes much to Shostakovich, yet the second subject would not sound out of place in a Star Trek film score, and its pseudo-oriental counter-theme is pure Hollywood.
yet somehow the whole thing proceeds as though all this were the most natural thing in the world.
It is only upon reflection that the latent expressive paradoxes became obvious and such is the potency of Glebov’s compositional sleight of hand.

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