Don's Classical Picks

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov

Rimsky-Korsakov is a well-known Russian minor composer, famous for his blockbuster piece, Scherazade. I wish I could recommend one version of Scherazade however my old favorite was with Fritz Reiner conducting the Chicago Symphony on LP and when they did the first version on CD they lost the warmth and color, supposedly they were going to do all these LPs over with better engineering but I haven't heard one yet. Anybody know how they did on the second try?

But besides his big hit, Rimsky-Korsakov produced a lot of very colorful pieces that should be regarded as wonderful, but alas, they do not get the attention they deserve.

Symphony No. 1, Symphony No. 2 "Antar"
St. Petersburg State Symphony Orchestra
Conducted by Andre Anichanov
Naxos 8.550811, DDD

Symphony No. 3, Sinfonietta on Russian Themes
St. Petersburg State Symphony Orchestra
Conducted by Andre Anichanov
Naxos 8.550812, DDD

What can I say! Both of these CDs gives you a romantic visit to old Russia. Not the Russian of War and Peace where everything is a struggle but an idealized version of Russia where things are colorful and beautiful and strange. The Antar here is not the best version I've heard, I fell in love with an old LP of Konstantin Ivanov conducting the Moscow Radio Symphony Orchestra and have since become acclimated to a version by Maazel and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra but if you haven't been prejudiced by some other favorite version you'll probably find this Antar is just fine. Both CDs have the kind of color that is most appropriate just before Christmas.

Christmas Eve
Night on Mt. Triglav
The Tsar's Bride: Overture and Intermezzo
On the Tomb
Moscow Symphony Orchestra
Conducted by Igor Golovschin
Naxos 8.553789, DDD

Christmas Eve is a Rimsky-Korsakov opera and here we only have instrumental parts. Don't think its like an American Christmas Eve, this has witches and the Devil making a mess. Night on Mt. Triglav is an orchestral arrangement of the third act of the opera Mlada.

All in all beautifully colorful Russian music and 75 minutes of it too.

If you have any questions or comments, write me.

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