Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Rimsky-Korsakov, Nicolai. (1844-1908) & Borodin, Alexandre. (1833-1887) Orchestral Works. Top recommendation.

From my collection.
Bought in November 2009.
First listen: 29-11-2009.
Second listen: 28-6-2017.
Label: Zig-Zag Territoires.
Recording dates: June 2004.
Recording venue: Concertgebouw Brugge, Belgium.
Recording engineer: Markus Heiland.
Running time: 76:18.
Relevance to me: Essential.
Top recommendation.
Reference performance.
State of the Art sound.

Works performed:
Sheherazade opus 35.
Russian Easter Festival Overture opus 36.

Borodin.
In Central Asia.
Polovtsian Dances.

Works performed by:
Anima Eterna, Jos van Immerseel.

If you expect sparks and a virtuosic display in the music of both composers I advise you to ignore this release. If however you appreciate authentic performance practice plus authentic instruments, and are willing to listen to this music then I promise you, you will be in for a treat.
All classical music fans will know the works on this disc, for they belong to the core repertoire of every orchestra, and are regularly performed in concert halls. So the story behind the music is well known as are the composers.
What you get with this orchestra are highly polished interpretations. Were vibrato is reduced to a minimum, and long legato lines are rare. Dynamics that are perfectly judged, and a harmonious balance that is beyond words, so beautiful. Never be afraid that you will miss any details, for the reduced amount of strings allows you to hear every tiny detail behind them. The brass has a golden shine, and fits perfectly in the total picture of the music, without distorting the equilibrium of the orchestra. It is all utterly perfect. All is so well balanced that even in the loudest passages, you never have to lower the volume or block your ears. The woodwinds are warm and really a treat to hear throughout the loudest passages. And when all is in rest, the winds and solo violin seem to float in midair. But then, the recording belongs to the best I have ever heard in my life. 
I can also safely say that all the works on this CD are reference interpretations. Never have I heard Sheherazade or the Russian Easter festival overture better as on this recording, and Borodin's works get quite close to the same level. This orchestra is on such a high altitude that it fulfills all technical and interpretive wishes one could possibly have.
The violin in Sheherazade is played by Midori Seiler, and she is amazing. Her hushed tones are out of this world, and she creates a magical world that gets you right in the middle of the story.
I have only small quibble regarding the recording of the timpani and the snare drum in the Polovtsian dances. It all happens fixed in the right speaker and does not travel the wide of the orchestra, which is a pity, for the effect is partly destroyed. But it's minor and it should not keep you away from this extraordinary recording.




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