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Symphonies 1 & 2 [Import]

M. Balakirev Audio CD
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

Price: $20.18 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (November 10, 1998)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: Import
  • Label: Hyperion UK
  • ASIN: B00000DLY9
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #344,018 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Disc: 1
1. I. Largo - Allegro Vivo
2. II. Scherzo: Vivo - Poco Meno Mosso
3. III. Andante
4. IV. Finale: Allegro Moderato - Tempo Di Polacca
5. Russia
Disc: 2
1. Overture On Three Russian Themes
2. Tamara
3. I. Allegro Ma Non Troppo
4. II. Scherzo 'Alla Cosacca': Allegro Non Troppo, Ma Con Fuoco Ed Energico
5. III. Romanza: Andante
6. IV. Finale: Tempo Di Polacca

Editorial Reviews

Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
28 of 32 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good compilation July 5, 2001
By A Customer
This is the best compilation of Balakirev's orchestral works, with both of his symphonies, symphonic poems Russia and Tamara, and an overture on Russian themes (a very common type of thing in Russian Romantic music). All of the pieces are played well; the conducting is acceptable. The recorded sound is VERY good. One thing that annoyed me was the essay in the booklet. It constantly compares Balakirev to Tchaikovsky, and Balakirev always comes out superior. Tchaikovsky does not deserve this! the booklet says Tchaikovsky's treatment of the Russian folk song "In the field stands a birch tree" in the overture is "tiresome", while Balakirev's is "more convincing". Balakirev's orchestration may sound more "colorful", but it is basically a straight transcription of the song for orchestra. Tchaikovsky adapted the song to his own needs for the finale of his Fourth Symphony, and it serves as a perfect prelude to the "Fate" motif which follows the variations on the folk song. Svetlanov does not give a very convincing performance of Tamara, the work really needs a good conductor to open it up and make it as exotic as the booklet says it is (the booklet says Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade is pallid by comparison. NEVER!! Scheherazade is a whole other world of sound, combining fear, exultation, beauty, etc., in Rimsky's sublime orchestration! In case you haven't heard it, do youself a big favor and buy Scherazade!!). Everything else is very well played and clearly presented. The First Symphony is gorgeous, and about as strong a case that can be is made for the Second. This is a very good compilation at a resonable price, and you will be satisfied with most of the music here.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mediocre at best December 23, 2010
On the face of it, here is a great offer. Hyperion has gathered together a number of the better Balakirev orchestral works around into this production. They have an excellent, if not quite great, orchestra in the Philharmonia and one of the best of the `old guard' of Russian conductors. So, everything is going well.

Performance: 4/5
The Philharmonia is impressive in its colour and clarity of tone and timbre. At times it's a little watery - most notably in the overtures. In the symphonies, the players rip into the music with good gusto though the levels of attack may be bellow par overall. Its difficult to take issue with the playing, however, as it is generally very polished and stylish - technically sound. There is just enough orchestral intensity to warrant four stars. There is rather the feeling that everything is just a little undercommitted - unspontaneous.

Sound: 2/5
Oh dear, things have taken a downward turn. Issue must be taken with the previous reviewer who praised the sound. Indeed, Hyperion's engineers have captured good clarity from the Philharmonia and a pleasant weight even though more is expected nowadays on that front. Rhythm, tone and colour are delivered nicely without any real frills that suspend disbelief. The big problem is, however - and lets not prevaricate, this is an absolutely essential point for almost any music - there is little dynamic range! This is a big let down. Just to clarify, it isn't that the recording suffers from issues of distancing (altough the recording isn't close up) but that p, mp, mf, and f all sound very similar. What were Hyperion's engineer's playing at? They are usually so good! The record sounds like a horribly compressed FM radio broadcast. On this basis alone these records should be avoided!
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