Borodin, Rimsky-Korsakov: Scheherazade

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COMPOSERS: Borodin,Rimsky-Korsakov
LABELS: EMI Great Recordings of the Century
WORKS: Scheherazade
PERFORMER: Beecham Choral Society, RPO/Thomas Beecham
CATALOGUE NO: CDM 5 66983 2 ADD Reissue (1958)
There may be Scheherazades where the waves billow more opulently and the young prince reclines in even more languorous attitudes, but Beecham’s classical instincts pinpoint Rimsky-Korsakov’s disciplined, ineffably well-orchestrated genius. The woodwind soloists, led by Jack Brymer’s subtle clarinet, have free rein to tell their tales in unsurpassable characterisations, and the Sultan’s savagery bites deep. In the Polovtsian Dances, too, the exoticism is in sharp, tangy focus, as if played on Eastern fiddles, while the chorus, who ‘strive to please thee’ in antique translation, thankfully shed their Englishness in their forceful delivery. The recording, always a spacious, airy miracle given its 1956-7 provenance, now has even greater definition and impact in the remastering. David Nice