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Rimsky-Korsakov: Orchestral Suites: Snow Maiden, Sadko, Mlada, Le Coq d'or

Album Summary

>Rimsky-Korsakov, Nikolai : The Snow Maiden
>Rimsky-Korsakov, Nikolai : Sadko
>Rimsky-Korsakov, Nikolai : Mlada
>Rimsky-Korsakov, Nikolai : Le Coq d'Or (The Golden Cockerel; Zolotoy petushok), concert suite for orchestra
Conductor Ensembles Composer

Notes & Reviews:

Rimsky-Korsakov's orchestral genius shines through in his colorful operatic suites, and that from his final opera Le Coq d'or is richly dramatic and expressive. The complicated folk-based story of the Snow Maiden is simplified into four enchanting movements, and that of Sadko into a single, radiantly descriptive tone-poem. The thrilling legend of Mlada is represented by vivid dances and a final Cortège. Gerard Schwarz's recording of Rimsky-Korsakov's Sheherazade (8.572693) with the Seattle Symphony was described as 'absolutely terrific'. (ClassicsToday.com)

"The orchestral suites that Rimsky-Korsakov often extracted from his stage works often convey their textures and particular dramatic flavours very vividly...all the performances, including those of the less well-known extracts...have real energy and a touch of the necessary theatricality too." -The Guardian

"The Seattle players are excellent, with a confident horn section that has plenty to rejoice in...the excerpts [from The Golden Cockerel] are more substantial, and are not only vividly presented but well-shaped. The pieces are enjoyable as lollipops; perhaps they will also encourage listeners to explore Rimsky-Korsakov's operatic legacy more fully." -Gramophone

"It's not so much the marine atmosphere [in Sadko] or, indeed, the mood-conscious introductions to the three other works which are impressive but the way the conductor gets his Seattle players to dance...The Seattle woodwind burst with character, and there's some hair-raising trombone playing as the surreal drama of Rimsky-Korsakov's slightly scary swansong builds up a head of steam." -BBC Music Magazine

MusicWeb International
Gerard Schwarz... has built up an orchestra that is self-evidently well drilled. Simultaneously, however, its members play with apparent spontaneity and imagination, as well as the verve and idiomatic style required by these colourful scores. The suite from Le coq d'or is the most substantial on the disc and is delivered not only with the appropriate mixture of exoticism, swagger and aplomb but with lashings of musical wit too, as Rimsky relishes every opportunity to poke fun at his opera's ridiculously pompous and self-important characters. Schwarz and his orchestra play so expertly and with such respect for the composer's characteristic idiom that everything comes up as fresh as new paint. Others can invest in all three with the greatest confidence and the prospect of enjoying them all immensely.

Gramophone
Schwarz's guiding hand gives the music a strong and coherent shape. The Seattle players are excellent, with a confident horn section that has plenty to rejoice in... the

BBC Music Magazine
Rimsky-Korsakov's suites of shortish movements drawn from his fantasy operas can seem like too much icing on the cake, so it's good that Gerard Schwarz turns to the early tone poem about the sea-obsessed minstrel Sadko rather than the later opera... The Seattle woodwind burst with character, and there's some hair-raising trombone playing as the surreal drama of Rimsky-Korsakov's slightly scary swansong builds up a head of steam.

The Sunday Times
This is exquisitely crafted, FabergT-egg music, and Schwarz's Seattle players revel in the exotic harmonies and orchestration.

Allmusic.com
Gerard Schwarz and the Seattle Symphony have provided a fine showcase for these orchestral favorites, and the suites' imaginative scoring and memorable melodies make this an enjoyable CD.

Infodad.com
the musicians play with verve and beauty, and Schwarz brings considerable understanding to suites that are essentially sequences of miniature scenes. The result is a CD that shows Rimsky-Korsakov's orchestral effects burnished to a fine sheen.

Audiophile Audition
this disc brings us a happy compilation of brilliant music derived from folk and fairy tales... The most familiar and musically rewarding score, the suite from his final opera Le Coq d'or (1907), has had marvelous inscriptions from Markevitch, Beecham, Svetlanov, and Neeme Jarvi. No less enchanted, the Schwartz rendition combines piquant detail in the percussion and loving sweetness from the strings, especially in the episode of King Dodon with Queen Shemakhan. Rimsky-Korsakov seems to have spliced his own, limitless invention in Scheherazade with lessons on the Asian musical culture from Balakirev and Belyayev.

Audiophilia
Musical Picture, Mlada and Golden Cockerel with Gerard Schwarz and the Seattle Symphony delivering energetic and crisp performances superbly recorded in the Benaroya Hall, Seattle. Surely a good indication of quality... Great entertainment and perfect for music lovers' Christmas stockings.

David's Review Corner
The powerful concluding section to Mlada is full of impact, while Le Coq d'or has its full quota of excitement. Unfussy and cleanly delineated sound.

The Northern Echo
Rimsky-Korsakov's orchestral genius shines through in his colourful operatic suites. The Seattle Symphony conducted by Gerard Schwarz perform his richly dramatic final opera Coq d'Or and the complicated folk-based story of the Snow Maiden, simplified here into four enchanting movements

WQXR (New York)
Naxos is on a Russian roll this month with a double-hitter from this member of The Five. Bass Mikhail Kazakov, who made an impressive star turn in Dallas earlier this year in the title role of Boris Godunov, headlines the Teatro Lirico di Cagliari's The Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh, a dreamy work widely thought to be the Russian Parsifal. Also out this month on Naxos are orchestral suites from several of Rimsky-Korsakov's other operas, including The Snow Maiden, Sadko and Le Coq d'or. Gerard Schwarz and the Seattle Symphony are in incredibly fine form with this repertoire, which you can also hear on recordings of Scheherazade and Capriccio espagnol, also released on Naxos this past May and September, respectively.

New Classics
[Rimsky-Korsakov's] love of the sea influenced him in one of his best-known orchestral works, the musical Sadko, which is included in this collection of brilliant and wonderfully melodic suites. Gerard Schwarz also conducts the excellent Settle Symphony in suites from the composer's own favourite work ...

Daily Telegraph (UK)
In the musical picture Sadko as much as in the suites from the operas The Snow Maiden, Mlada and The Golden Cockerel, Gerard Schwarz and the Seattle Symphony conjure up a scintillating aura of the myth, magic and melodic allure that are fundamental to Rimsky-Korsakov's style. There is plenty of energy coupled with subtlety in conveying a radiant spectrum of instrumental colors.

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: Benaroya Hall, Seattle, Washington, USA (2011-03-09&2011-03-18&2011-).



Reviews

Rimsky-Korsakov orchestral suites
Nikolay Andreyevich Rimsky-Korsakov (NRK) was both a composer and an officer in the Russian navy. He became a key member of the famous group called the "Moguchaya Kuchka" (Mighty Handful), whose aim was to follow in Glinka's footsteps and create a distinctly Russian school of music instead of adhering to traditional European musical conventions. The group was formed in St. Petersburg before the foundation of the St. Petersburg Music Conservatory in 1862 by Anton Rubinstein.
NRK's appointment as professor at the St. Petersburg Conservatory in 1871 upset some members of the "Moguchaya Kuchka." Borodin welcomed it, but the others - Cui, Musorgsky (spelled thus in Grove Music), and especially Balakirev - opposed it because they were fiercely anti-conservatory. For NRK, however, it provided a secure income. Eventually, he became one of Russia's most prominent and beloved nineteenth-century Russian composers.
In addition to symphonies, orchestral tone poems, and songs, NRK composed 16 operas. This CD offers excerpts from four of his most successful ones: "The Snow Maiden," "Sadko," "Mlada," and "The Golden Cockerel." For listeners looking for this combination of works on a single CD, this is an excellent disk to buy. A quick look on the Internet didn’t turn up any rival CDs containing this combination of orchestral excerpts from these four operas. The Seattle Symphony Orchestra, under Gerard Schwarz's expert guidance, performs splendidly. The playing is superb, the recorded sound is first-class, and Keith Anderson's program notes are very informative. To add to the pleasure, this CD is modestly priced. If you enjoy NRK's music, be sure to buy this CD!
Ted Wilks
Submitted on 01/08/12 by Ted Wilks 
Magnificent music, disappointing performances
Years ago, I took the online quiz “Which Dead Russian Composer Are You?” (Try it for yourself at http://www.doppelgriff.com/russian/.) I had hoped to be Prokofiev, but I’m not passionate enough about chess. Moussorgsky? Not a chance. Much as I enjoy a good drink, vodka simply isn’t the answer to everything. No, I was Rimsky-Korsakov—the pedantic professor, government bureaucrat (Inspector of Bands), and one-hit wonder (Scheherazade). This was hardly the result I had hoped for. And yet, when I hear something as stunning as the “Procession of the Nobles” from Mlada, I’m delighted to be associated with this underrated master.

All the music on this disc is magnificent, but Gerard Schwarz’s performances are disappointing. Schwarz is a first-rate interpreter of American music, as demonstrated by his excellent recordings of symphonies by David Diamond, Howard Hanson, and especially Alan Hovhaness. But he’s less persuasive in the standard repertory and hardly more compelling here.

Schwarz’s tempos are often quite brisk, leaving precious little room for Rimsky’s charming melodies to breathe. Moreover, selections like the miniature symphonic poem Sadko seem episodic and prosaic in his hands. The Seattle Symphony plays splendidly for their beloved leader, particularly the majestic brass section. Schwarz was, after all, among the greatest trumpet virtuosos before he tossed his horn aside to take up the baton. But the string section seems threadbare at times, and Naxos consistently mutes Rimsky’s kaleidoscopic colors—a mortal sin in this repertory. Overall the sound is distant and dry. The warmth and resonance of Seattle’s glorious Benaroya Hall is entirely absent from this recording.

Neeme Jarvi on Chandos is superior in nearly every department. His splendid Scottish orchestra plays with welcome swagger and panache, and his interpretations are invariably exciting, without ever sounding rushed or cold.
Submitted on 03/31/12 by Tom Godell 
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Works Details

>Rimsky-Korsakov, Nikolai : The Snow Maiden
  • Conductor: Gerard Schwarz
  • Ensemble: Seattle Symphony Orchestra
  • Notes: Benaroya Hall, Seattle, Washington, USA (2011-03-09&2011-03-18&2011-)
  • Running Time: 11 min. 52 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Written: 1903

>Rimsky-Korsakov, Nikolai : Sadko :: Musical Picture (ii), tone poem for orchestra, Op. 5
  • Conductor: Gerard Schwarz
  • Notes: Benaroya Hall, Seattle, Washington, USA (2011-03-09&2011-03-18&2011-)
  • Running Time: 10 min. 52 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Written: 1869

>Rimsky-Korsakov, Nikolai : Mlada
  • Conductor: Gerard Schwarz
  • Notes: Benaroya Hall, Seattle, Washington, USA (2011-03-09&2011-03-18&2011-)
  • Running Time: 17 min. 43 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Written: 1903

>Rimsky-Korsakov, Nikolai : Le Coq d'Or (The Golden Cockerel; Zolotoy petushok), concert suite for orchestra
  • Conductor: Gerard Schwarz
  • Notes: Benaroya Hall, Seattle, Washington, USA (2011-03-09&2011-03-18&2011-)
  • Running Time: 27 min. 27 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Written: 1907