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Borodin: Symphonies Nos. 1-3; Overture & Polovtsian Dances from Prince Igor; Etc. / Davis

Audio Samples

>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
>Borodin, Alexander : Quartet for Strings no 2 in D
>     3. Notturno
>Borodin, Alexander : In the steppes of central Asia
>Borodin, Alexander : Prince Igor
>     Overture
>     Polovtsian Dances

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
>Borodin, Alexander : Quartet for Strings no 2 in D
>Borodin, Alexander : In the steppes of central Asia
>Borodin, Alexander : Prince Igor
Conductors Ensembles Composer

Notes & Reviews:

'In the First and Third Symphonies Davis's marvellous sense of style and the clear, bright recordings are well aligned. His extraordinarily keen sense of rhythm and texture - he shapes and projects the ostinato rhythms of the First Symphony and much of the Prince Igor music (enthusiastically sung) like a young Toscanini - distinguishes page upon page of the music... [in the slow movement of the Second] Davis treating the music with the kind of intelligence and musical sensibility one would hope to find in the performance of a slow movement by Vaughan Williams or Delius.' - Gramophone, November 1977

"In the First and Third Symphonies Davis’s marvellous sense of style and the clear, bright recordings are well aligned. His extraordinarily keen sense of rhythm and texture—he shapes and projects the ostinato rhythms of the First Symphony and much of the Prince Igor music (enthusiastically sung) like a young Toscanini—distinguishes page upon page of the music [in the slow movement of the Second] Davis treating the music with the kind of intelligence and musical sensibility one would hope to find in the performance of a slow movement by Vaughan Williams or Delius." -Gramophone

MusicWeb International
These remain alertly emphatic versions with an orchestra notably on top form and seemingly blooming under Davis's direction. The readings are vivacious and poetic... a choice that is both sure-footed and brilliant.

Infodad.com
Davis has clearly studied these scores: he appreciates them and pays close attention to the composer's intentions in tempos, dynamics and contrasts among orchestral sections... Davis' Borodin is more musicianly and more appealing in its straightforward approach to the symphonies... the clarity of the Canadian orchestra is a big plus here... the players' skill and their excellent ensemble are evident throughout. The result is a First that strides nobly forward and is never less than compelling; a Second that is tightly knit, dramatic and cogent; and a foreshortened Third with pleasant chamber-music qualities that will make any listener familiar with the work regret, probably not for the first time, that only two movements of this symphony survive.



Reviews

Delightful Borodin reissue
These bracing performances were originally issued in 1977 on three Columbia LPs. At the time I was a fledgling classical music announcer with a brand new public radio station in Birmingham, Alabama. Our listeners loved these recordings, and it's easy to see why they were so popular. From the beloved Polovtsian Dances to the little-known First and Third Symphonies, Borodin's scores are richly melodic, exotically colorful, and immediately appealing.

The 1970s were not a great time for classical music. The composers of the era (with a few notable exceptions) wrote music that was cold, dry, and deeply intellectual. Performers, too, became emotionally cool and dispassionate. Gone were the "romantic excesses" of the recent past. Instead, musicians were admonished by critics and musicologists to follow the letter of the score as if it were holy writ and avoid all unnecessary expression or interpretation. The other arts suffered a similar fate. See, for example, Susan Sontag's book of essays "Against Interpretation". Andrew Davis was no exception to this rule. Undoubtedly that is why, to this day, I don't care for most of his recordings. Sometimes, though, a splash of ice water is just what the doctor ordered, and it works unexpectedly well here.

Davis's tempos are brisk and bracing. Just listen to the way he tears into the finale from the Second Symphony. Even his andantes move along smartly, though nothing ever sounds rushed. Indeed the crisp pacing inevitable heightens the excitement inherent in the music. Textures are light and lean, as if the music had been scored by Stravinsky rather than a 19th century romantic. Perhaps Toronto couldn't afford more strings, and I do prefer a richer sonority (as in Loris Tjeknavorian's wonderful RCA recording). Still, this ensemble seems ideally suited to Davis' overall concept. The greatest flaw is the dry, clinical sound--also typical of its era. Fortunately, Borodin's scoring is so lavish that this hardly matters. Even the disembodied chorus in the Polovtsian Dances, which sounds as though it was dubbed in long after the orchestral sessions, does not undermine our enjoyment.

RCA (Tjeknavorian) and Naxos (Stephen Gunzenhauser) both manage to squeeze all three symphonies onto a single disc, and both conductors find more color and depth of emotion in the music. Newton requires two discs, but does at least supplement the symphonies with Davis's lively accounts of the Overture and Polovtsian Dances from Prince Igor, Bernstein's gloriously romantic "In the Steppes of Central Asia", and a pathetically bland transcription of the Nocturne from String Quartet No. 2 with the St. Petersburg Camerata. And who can resist a record label whose mascot is a fire-breathing newt?

Submitted on 02/12/12 by Tom Godell 
Superb Borodin From Sir Andrew Davis
Itís good to have these topnotch performances restored to the catalog. There is a thoughtfulness informing these interpretations that is eminently appealing. Davis puts forth very persuasive arguments regarding tempi, rhythm, phrasing and balance: the perfect blend of intellect and passion. The TSO responds with exhilarating, buoyant playing. The late Andrew Kazdinís production is spot on as are the vivid analogue sonics courtesy of Sony c. 1976. Two attractive bonus tracks plus insightful liner notes complete an excellent package.
Submitted on 06/20/12 by conway 
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Works Details

>Borodin, Alexander : Symphony no 1 in E flat major
  • Conductor: Andrew Davis
  • Ensemble: Toronto Symphony Orchestra
  • Running Time: 34 min. 24 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Form: Orchestral
  • Written: 1862-1867

>Borodin, Alexander : Symphony no 2 in B minor
  • Conductor: Andrew Davis
  • Running Time: 26 min. 29 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Form: Orchestral
  • Written: 1869-1876

>Borodin, Alexander : Symphony no 3 in A minor
  • Conductor: Andrew Davis
  • Running Time: 17 min. 53 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Form: Orchestral
  • Written: 1882

>Borodin, Alexander : Quartet for Strings no 2 in D :: 3. Notturno
  • Conductor: Andrew Davis
  • Running Time: 8 min. 48 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Written: 1881

>Borodin, Alexander : In the steppes of central Asia
  • Conductor: Leonard Bernstein
  • Notes: Composition written: 1880.
  • Running Time: 7 min. 30 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Form: Orchestral
  • Written: 1880

>Borodin, Alexander : Prince Igor :: Overture
  • Conductor: Andrew Davis
  • Running Time: 10 min. 37 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Form: Opera/Operetta
  • Written: 1869-1887

>Borodin, Alexander : Prince Igor :: Polovtsian Dances
  • Conductor: Andrew Davis
  • Running Time: 12 min. 59 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Form: Opera/Operetta
  • Written: 1869-1887