LABELS: Zig Zag
ALBUM TITLE: Rimsky-Korsakov, Borodin
WORKS: Sheherazade; Russian Easter Festival Overture
PERFORMER: Anima Eterna/Jos van Immerseel
CATALOGUE NO: ZZT 050502
Authentic performance practice reaches Rimsky-Korsakov’s Sheherazade, and as usual it’s only half the story. A smaller body of strings is fine when it projects as well as these players do; and allows for better balances with wind and brass – the final smashing-up of Sinbad’s ship is briskly resplendent – but wouldn’t more vibrato and portamento have been part of the picture, too?
The overall sound, though warmly recorded, can be lightweight: once past a splendid opening summons, the bloodthirsty sultan checks in his scimitar at the front gate, and the elaborate woodwind solos of the Kalender Prince’s tale are a long way from incisive impersonation of their eastern counterparts. Although Jos van Immerseel keeps the performance on its toes, there’s certainly more room for the kind of inflection you get with the great conductors (the silks of the classic Beecham performance have not faded with age).
The rest is a mixed-quality bazaar, too, with a Russian Easter Festival Overture unillumined by the mystic light of Russian orthodoxy but redeemed by beefy underpinning of fleet and eminently danceable Polovtsian revels. David Nice