Review by firstname.lastname@example.org June 19, 2004 (6 of 6 found this review helpful)
Pictures at an Exhibition, (orch. Ravel)
Night on Bald Mountain, original and Rimsky's
Golitsin's Exile from Khovanchina
Hopak from Sorochinsky Fair
Naxos SACD $11.99 USD
(did you notice? $11.99?)
Wow. I didn't think I could get excited while listening to Pics at an Ex
ever again, but the National Symphony Orchestra of the Ukraine turns in a
vivid performance. From the deliciously unhomogenized oboe, to the earthy
but warm strings, to the overly-earnest percussion section...it was a
delight all the way through. (Don't tell anyone, but usually I move ahead
to the Hut and Gate.
One of the many striking moments was how splashy Ravel's writing for bells,
gong and cymbals sounds in the last quiet run before the final statement of
the Great Gate theme; it was an unusually colorful, intense and exciting
build up. The heaving string
writing in Bydlo comes off particulary sad and burdensome, as the cart
lumbers along. Lighter moments for winds are vividly characterized.
Had enough of Night on Bald Mountain? You get two versions here: Rimsky's
correction, and Mussy's original. I like both, though my favorite
alternative being the one with chorus, as it sounds the most errie of all.
(Abbado/Sony, I believe.) Kuchar and the Ukraine make them sound freshly-minted.
If you think you had no romance left for this music, it got me goin' again.
Once again the SACD recording, (I opted for the 2-channel layer),
intoxicates the ear in a way that PCM never did for me, though I never would
have known when PCM was all there was. "Relaxed" is the best way I could
decribe the sound, for what it's worth. While I've read that Naxos' recordings with the Russian National Orchestra have been hit and miss, this one's up there with the best of them: vivid, warm, huge soundstage and just the right amount of reverberance. I look forward to hearing this in multi-channel.
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