Russian Dances

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Pyotr Il’yich Tchaikovsky; Dmitri Shostakovich; Igor Stravinsky
LABELS: PentaTone
ALBUM TITLE: Russian Dances
WORKS: Tchaikovsky: Suite from Swan Lake; Glazunov: Two Concert Waltzes; Shostakovich: The Golden Age; Stravinsky: Circus Polka
CATALOGUE NO: Pentatone PTC 5186 557 (hybrid CD/SACD)

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This hugely enjoyable and beautifully recorded programme could easily have been subtitled ‘a journey from fantasy to irony’. Opening with the melodic fecundity and warmth of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, we move seamlessly to the grace, opulence and nostalgia of Glazunov’s Two Concert Waltzes. A drastic change in stylistic direction occurs with the biting satire of Shostakovich’s Golden Age, which is then followed by Stravinsky’s equally grotesque yet witty Circus Polka, both projected here with all the necessary textural and rhythmic pungency.

Kazuki Yamada and the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande revel in the very different qualities of each work. I was particularly impressed in the Tchaikovsky by the freshness achieved in such familiar movements as the ‘Dance of the Swans’ where the orchestra’s wind section manage to combine expressive charm with wonderfully crisp and light articulation. Likewise, the individual string soloists in the ensuing ‘Scène-Andante’ are eloquent and impassioned without ever resorting to over-sentimentalised levels of expression. Indeed, such is the drive and energy of the playing in the various national dances which make up the rest of the Suite (‘Danse hongroise’, ‘Danse éspagnole’, ‘Danse napolitaine’ and ‘Mazurka’) that I hope that Pentatone may record the whole ballet score with this team.

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Erik Levi