Sunday, March 20, 2011

Rimsky-Korsakov - The complete Symphonies – Neeme Jarvi, Goteborgs Symfoniker

Neeme Järvi is one of the few conductors to make sense of Rimsky-Korsakov's Op. 9 "Antar" Symphony, a powerfully dramatic work that in the right hands can seem almost as seductive as Scheherazade. Järvi's performance isn't as strongly narrative as Monteux's 1946 RCA classic from San Francisco, but of course DG's sonics are immeasurably superior, and the Gothenburg orchestra responds magnificently throughout. The only modern version to rival Järvi's is a 1987 Telarc recording from Pittsburgh under Lorin Maazel, coupled with Tchaikovsky's "Little Russian" symphony. It's excellently played and Maazel's Rimsky-Korsakov ear for exotic detailing leaves nothing hidden.
In the remaining Rimsky-Korsakov symphonies, the Chandos pairing under Dmitri Kitaenko has clinically detailed sound that exposes weaknesses in the Bergen Philharmonic winds and brass. The more characterful and better-blended Gothenburg horns, clarinets, and bassoons are heard to advantage in both works, and Järvi directs them with charisma and intensity, firmly convincing you that Symphony No. 3 is a masterpiece. Both fillers are superb, too. The violinist in the Capriccio espagnol deserves a mention for fine solo work, and Richard Taruskin contributes absorbing booklet notes.--Michael Jameson
flac, booklet

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