WORKS: Symphony No. 2; Petite suite (orch. Glazunov); Polovtsian Dances
PERFORMER: Royal Stockholm PO/Gennady Rozhdestvensky
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN 9386 DDD
The Polovtsian Dances form the best known extract from Borodin’s opera Prince Igor, and Rozhdestvensky conducts as colourful a performance as we would expect. The drawback is that once you have heard the operatic version complete with chorus, orchestra alone comes a poor second.
The Symphony No. 2 is Borodin’s orchestral masterpiece. This interesting performance has richly drawn instrumental colours which never fail to beguile the ear, most notably in the intensely Romantic slow movement. The opening of the work is more problematic: there is an accelerando within the basic allegro tempo, but Rozhdestvensky turns this into a massive introduction. While an exciting gesture, it does little for the music’s structural cohesiveness. And in the prestissimo Scherzo, accuracy and clarity are achieved at the expense of too safe a tempo.
The lighter Petite suite, piano miniatures orchestrated by Glazunov, is delightfully done, the warmth of the playing reminding us that this music was inspired by ‘the love of a young girl’. Terry Barfoot