CATALOGUE NO: See text for individual catalogue numbers and BBCMusic Magazine Direct prices
Substantial orchestral noises come from Svetlanov and the Philharmonia in RIMSKY-KORSAKOV’s symphonic suite Antar (CDH 55137, £6.99), and though Svetlanov makes the most of the colourful orchestration, turning to his Regis reissue of glinka (RRC 1142, call for price) brought home what was missing: the thrilling sound of a Russian orchestra with its blood up.
The Overture to Ruslan and Ludmila with the Bolshoi Orchestra is sock-blowing-off stuff, crude 1963 Melodiya recording and all, and the braying brass at the beginning of the Jota aragonesa reaches the parts that other horns can’t.
There’s more sophistication from the USSR Ministry of Culture SO under Rozhdestvensky in two of SCHNITTKE’s concertos from the Eighties (RRC 1141, call for price).
With Yuri Bashmet and Natalia Gutman as soloists, these are definitive performances of pieces with little of the irony you might expect from this composer: the long slow movements that end each concerto are deeply felt in their tragedy.
TCHAIKOVSKY’s Grand Sonata is more positive in its outlook, and although Mikhail Pletnev has rather a clangorous piano to contend with, he brings the right sort of barnstorming panache to the outer movements, as well as charm and sharply delineated character to the miniatures of the Children’s Album (RRC 1143, call for price).
Regis draws material from a variety of sources: a collection of English string music with the RPO under Charles Groves first appeared on IMP, and has the advantage of a sonorous recording which brings real power to the climaxes of Vaughan Williams’s Tallis Fantasia and Elgar’s Serenade for Strings.
The playing is warm and spontaneous, even if there are a few hairy moments in Britten’s Frank Bridge Variations (RRC 1138, call for price).
I hope that the reissue of MAXWELL DAVIES’s Sinfonia concertante and Sinfonia marks the beginning of the reappearance of the composer’s Unicorn-Kanchana recordings (RRC 1148, call for price).
This may be tough stuff to get into, but its integrity and musicality are undeniable, especially with the composer at the helm of the Scottish CO, whose commitment, together with the virtuosity of its front desk players, are very persuasive.