Charles Dutoit conducting the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal.
One of my first CD purchases, this is a fantastic recording of both works. Gorgeous playing by the orchestra with subtle interpretation by Dutoit. My only complaint would be that the dynamic range is so big that the quieter parts are too quiet. When you turn the music up to hear the quiet part, you're then blown away like the guy in the Maxell ad when the loud parts come around.
1-4: Schereazade (Symphonic Suite), Op. 35. Here's what I said about this piece in an earlier blog posting for a different recording:
Scheherazade (1888) is perhaps Rimsky-Korsakov's most well-known symphonic suites. While it gets a little schmaltzy at times, this piece illustrates the Russians' fascination with the Orient/The Arabian Nights in the 19th century. Listening to this piece, you realize how much 20th century movie soundtrack composer John Williams owes to Rimsky-Korsakov, particularly in terms of orchestration.My favorite movement is the 4th, titled Festival at Baghdad - The Sea - Shipwreck, but the entire piece is enjoyable because themes are passed around among the movements as Scheherazade weaves her tales. It is interesting that I mention Rimsky-Korsakov's influence on John Williams' orchestration, because I recently came across my volume of Rimsky-Korsakov's book, Principles Of Orchestration, that belonged to my junior high band director when he was a college student in Austin. Rimsky-Korsakov literally wrote the book on orchestration.
5-9: Capriccio Espagnol, Op. 34 (1887). Possibly my favorite orchestral work (at least that's what I'm thinking today...top 5 for sure). A Russian composer takes Spanish folk melodies and turns out a beautiful 16 minutes of music. I implore you to take the time to give this piece a listen sometime.
Personal Memory Associated with this CD: This CD, Movement V of Capriccio Espagnol in particular, got a lot of playing time while I was practicing my conducting technique in college. In 1989, I was so caught up in my own self-assessed conducting brilliance that I actually applied for a conducting fellowship at the prestigious Tanglewood Music Center. Fortunately, my application was denied because I don't think I could have faked my way through the score reduction exercises at the piano. I laugh now at how my classmates and I all thought we were serious conductors when all we were doing was preparing to teach junior high band students who could have cared less about what we looked like. All they want is a clarity, not showmanship.
Previously revisited for the blog: