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Borodin: Symphonies No 1-3 / Gerard Schwarz, Seattle Symphony

> Symphony No. 1 in E flat major * - I. Adagio - Allegro - Andantino
> Symphony No. 1 in E flat major * - II. Scherzo: Prestissimo - Trio: Allegro
> Symphony No. 1 in E flat major * - III. Andante
> Symphony No. 1 in E flat major * - IV. Alegro molto vivo
> Symphony No. 2 in B minor - I. Allegro
> Symphony No. 2 in B minor - II. Scherzo: Prestissimo. Trio: Allegretto
> Symphony No. 2 in B minor - III. Andante
> Symphony No. 2 in B minor - IV. Finale: Allegro
> Symphony No. 3 in A minor (unfinished) (orch. A.K. Glazunov) - I. Moderato assai
> Symphony No. 3 in A minor (unfinished) (orch. A.K. Glazunov) - II. Scherzo: Vivo - Trio: Moderato

Album Summary

>Borodin, Alexander : Symphony no 1 in E flat major
>Borodin, Alexander : Symphony no 2 in B minor
>Borodin, Alexander : Symphony no 3 in A minor
Conductor Ensemble Composer

Notes & Reviews:

Borodin's symphonies exude lyricism and panache. The First took five years to complete but is a work of seamless melodic invention owing something to Mendelssohn, whose influence infuses it with delicious lightness. The Second Symphony is a more explicitly Russian work, pulsing with festive and marchlike elements, high-spirited and boldly nationalistic. The Third was left incomplete, and was reconstructed and orchestrated by Glazunov with considerable facility and imagination. Gerard Schwarz and the Seattle Symphony have already demonstrated their prowess in music by another of the "Mighty Five", Rimsky- Korsakov's Sheherazade (8572693), acclaimed as "world class... nothing short of spectacular" (MusicWeb International). Renowned American conductor Gerard Schwarz celebrates his 26th and final season as Seattle Symphony Music Director in the 2010-2011 season, and will assume the title of Conductor Laureate in the 2011-2012 season. Seattle Symphony, a vital part of the Pacific Northwest cultural scene, is recognized for its extraordinary performances, programming, recordings and community engagement. The Symphony performs or presents nearly 220 performances annually to an audience of more than 315,000 people. From its first performance on December 29, 1903, Seattle Symphony has held a unique place in the world of symphonic music. During its formative years, it was the charismatic Sir Thomas Beecham who most developed the Orchestra's skill and reputation. Since Gerard Schwarz's appointment as Music Advisor in 1983, and subsequent appointment as Music Director in 1985, the Symphony has experienced an era of unprecedented artistic growth, with a reputation for innovative and adventurous programming and recording. Seattle Symphony has made more than 125 recordings and garnered 12 Grammy nominations. The Orchestra has given more than 70 premieres since 1983, including commissions by seven major American composers in celebration of the Symphony's Centennial Season in 2003 - 2004. Both in live performance and on recordings, Seattle Symphony has devoted itself to presenting often-neglected masterpieces by mid-20th century composers, whose music is once again establishing itself in the hearts of American concertgoers.

"Three cheers to the Seattle Symphony for championing Borodin’s symphonies, particularly in such fresh, lithe performances... Schwarz keeps the rhythms taut and buoyant, animating the first movement after its adagio opening, breathing air into the nimble scherzo and propelling the finale with gusto. The slow movement, where Borodin’s lyrical gift comes most prominently to the surface, is done with unexaggerated charm. Borodin took ages to write these symphonies, not least because of his day job as a chemist, and the Third exists only in two movements that were completed by Glazunov after Borodin’s death. This is glorious music, played with character and vitality." -The Daily Telegraph

With a never heavy, always smooth and full sound are lit by Black and his orchestra fully in the service of this music to life in this fresh and lively interpretations. Here, the conductor makes sure to let the music will not only be vital and to clothe them in a non-binding, global sound. What we hear here is genuinely Russian sound.

Daily Mail
Few symphonies pack a more powerful punch than Borodin's Second. This fine performance by the Seattle Symphony under Gerard Schwarz makes the most of all those romantic Russian melodies.

Lively, colourful accounts of Borodin's symphonies... Schwarz and the Seattle players give a lively account... They also do well with the colourful elements in the First Symphony, which has another sparkling Scherzo with a Trio that flows so seamlessly that one can hardly tell that every bar is in a different time signature.

American Record Guide
this new Naxos gives you absolutely terrific performances of all three symphonies... Everything changed when I heard this fantastic job from the Seattle Symphony with great swaths of sound from Benaroya Hall... Schwarz displays a remarkable ear for color, and the Seattle players do themselves proud... this is incisive and intense music-making that fleshes out Borodin's highly colored mosaic as few others I've been fortunate to hear, culminating in an immensely satisfying blare from the brass on reaching the climax of the final movement that rivals even Gergiev's Rotterdam players. Here indeed is the Borodin E-flat as it should be played, and if by chance you have never heard this music, you will find this Naxos well worth the investment.

MusicWeb International
The sound ideally captures the excellent Seattle Symphony. Engineer Dmitriy Lipay, also responsible for the orchestra's ongoing Rimsky-Korsakov series, really puts the players in a flattering light. The ensemble truly fills the sonic space, but extraordinary riches of orchestral detail are audible. The strings are reasonably full from top to bottom and the brass ring out with gratifying presence. I'd love to hear these recordings in the Blu-Ray format for which Naxos prepares all its new orchestral releases these days.

BBC Music Magazine
Borodin's First Symphony has modernist touches and fluid melodies

MusicWeb International
Even Schwarz can't make too much of the First Symphony but the other two are really tuneful and the new performances make the most of them. With good recording, well conveyed by the mp3 download, this is strongly recommended.

Turok's Choice
Gerard Schwarz leaves the Seattle Symphony in great shape. In what is possibly his last recording with that orchestra, he conducts all three Borodin symphonies (8.572786). The First is a fine work, with marvelous ideas but a rather clumsy working out. The Second is justly famous. The Third is unfinished; only the first movement and a scherzo (in 5/8) exists. The orchestra plays beautifully. The performance of the Second is excellent, but in the slow movement, Schwarz does not bring out the triplet passage at rehearsal letter "K" that Debussy copied into his "Afternoon of a Faun." It is a completely original concept, much used since Borodin's time. The Third Symphony was never completed. There exist two movements, a first and a scherzo in 5/8 that was daring for the time. The first movement is lyrical, the scherzo fascinating.

Audio Video Club of Atlanta
Symphony No. 3 in A minor, left unfinished at Borodin's death and completed in two movements by Rimsky-Korsakov and Glazunov, gives a tantalizing peek at what might have been. That is true especially of the Trio, where Borodin used exotic material originally intended for Prince Igor. It completes an intriguing program in which we encounter echoes and pre echoes of those well known Polovetsians at every turn.

The same idiomatic characteristics enhance the Second Symphony's gutsy opening string theme, while the finale simply explodes with color and energy. Borodin's Second is one of those works that everyone takes for granted, but its compact 25 minutes or so comprises one of the very best Russian symphonies of any period. It has enjoyed many fine performances, but this one is every bit as good as the best of them, and as already noted, the sonics are splendid. Don't hesitate for a minute.

Film Music: The Neglected Art
The work leaves no doubt as to its Russian heritage as the opening chords are a giveaway; dark and mysterious. The adagio leads the listener to an upbeat theme, backed by percussion. The development is slow and complete. Alexander was very detailed and the long period of time he spent is certainly evident. He was given help by Balakirev and while the initial offering was considered a failure upon revision it was given another premiere at the Russian Music Society and it was very well received. The scherzo is a lively one beginning with the strings offering the melody with the brass giving support. A second melody from the woodwinds, a delicate one, is developed before Borodin returns to the original theme. The third movement, his andante, is a beautiful romantic theme one to listen to when relaxing is the order of the moment. The finale is an allegro vivo filled with spirit and energy. The Borodin style of composition and orchestration is quite evident or I would say it could be German but his use of the brass and strings is a giveaway for this reviewer.

As far as 1st symphonies go this has to be considered an excellent effort better than most. The Seattle Symphony under the direction of Gerard Schwarz performs this to perfection. I've heard this work performed by many orchestras and this recording is at or near the top!

Film Music: The Neglected Art
The first movement moderato assai is a lovely unforgettable melody that has stayed with this reviewer ever since I first heard it back in the late 50's. It is allowed to become fully developed the theme being offered by woodwinds and strings with a small amount of brass in the background. The second movement is a Scherzo followed by a trio (taken from Igor). One can easily hear how this could have been written for quartet as well as the influence Glazunov had on this. One could very easily understand that the trio part could have come from one of the quieter moments of Igor. The clarinet is a thing of beauty. Simply orchestrated it is music for a time of reflection. The finale is a return to the original theme as the work ends on a positive upbeat note... The Seattle Symphony is right on the mark and is an improvement over the rather overly bright recording of 20+ years ago from Naxos (8.550238)... This new offering from Naxos would be a welcome addition to your collection. The CD also includes Borodin's first two symphonies reviewed separately.

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: Benaroya Hall, Seattle, Washington.


More superb Russian music from Seattle
Gerard Schwarz and his Seattle players have excelled in Russian repertoire, with a really excellent Rimsky-Korsakov series on Naxos. Their mastery extends to the music of Alexander Borodin, the professional chemist who excelled at his avocation of composing. The great, nationalist 2nd Symphony is presented to excellent effect by the Seattle Symphony, playing as well as I've heard (and they have recorded a very large amount of interesting repertoire over the years). In the First Symphony Borodin is learning to write orchestral music. He succeeds brilliantly, especially in the long first movement. Schwarz makes the best possible case for this work.

The Third Symphony is such an interesting work, a reconstruction by Glazunov of sketches of two movements left unfinished by Borodin at his death. A spare and wistful work, it's an impressive achievement in its own right, but also sadly points to what might have been if the composer hadn't died so young.
Submitted on 11/10/11 by Dean Frey 
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Works Details

>Borodin, Alexander : Symphony no 1 in E flat major
  • Conductor: Gerard Schwarz
  • Ensemble: Seattle Symphony
  • Notes: Benaroya Hall, Seattle, Washington, USA (02/04/2011/02/24/2011)
  • Running Time: 33 min. 44 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Form: Orchestral
  • Written: 1862-1867

>Borodin, Alexander : Symphony no 2 in B minor
  • Conductor: Gerard Schwarz
  • Ensemble: Seattle Symphony
  • Notes: Benaroya Hall, Seattle, Washington, USA (05/08/2009/05/15/2009)
  • Running Time: 25 min. 59 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Form: Orchestral
  • Written: 1869-1876

>Borodin, Alexander : Symphony no 3 in A minor
  • Conductor: Gerard Schwarz
  • Ensemble: Seattle Symphony
  • Running Time: 17 min. 37 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Form: Orchestral
  • Written: 1882