Magazine article Gramophone

Rimsky-Korsakov: Symphonies-No 1

Magazine article Gramophone

Rimsky-Korsakov: Symphonies-No 1

Article excerpt

Rimsky-Korsakov

Symphonies--No 1, Op 1; No 3, Op 32

Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra/Gerard Schwarz

Naxos (B) 8 573581 (58' * DDD)

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Gravesend is an unlikely location for a Russian opus 1, but the Andante tranquillo of Rimsky-Korsakov's First Symphony was composed there while the 17-year-old was on naval duty. Cesar Cui dubbed it the first truly Russian symphony. Rimsky revised and reorchestrated it in 1884, transposing it from E flat minor to E minor. The composer's symphonies get short shrift, both in the concert hall and on disc. Only the Second gets the occasional outing, mostly due to its Sheherazade-like oriental flavour. Prolific recording conductor Gerard Schwarz has given us three discs of Rimsky's orchestral music with the Seattle Symphony. For the First and Third, he now teams up with the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra.

Naxos provides a beefy Berlin sound, with weighty strings and imposing brass. With the First Symphony Schwarz misses some of the magic in an earthbound slow movement --whose folksong was suggested by Balakirev --but the Scherzo has a fine swagger to it, building a good head of steam. …

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