Friday, 3 December 2010

CD Reviews (The Straits Times, December 2010)

Scottish National Orchestra
London Symphony Orchestra
Neeme Järvi
Chandos 6512

This anthology of highlights from seven ballets by five Russian composers does not look too promising on paper until one hears to them in an uninterrupted hour-long stretch. Tchaikovsky gets pride of place with his Swan Lake and Nutcracker with four dances each, easily the most familiar music on disc. Astutely programmed in between is the underrated Glazunov, whose Raymonda displays a melodic facility that rivals even Tchaikovsky.

The dissonance level is gradually and gently upped with Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet, reaching a violent peak with The Death of Tybalt. On its descent, Stravinsky’s early ballet The Firebird, with its lush Rimsky-Korsakov-influenced orchestration, and the tongue-in-cheek, madcap humour of Shostakovich’s Ballet Suites hold sway. It is however Glazunov who has the final word and track. Veteran Estonian conductor Neeme Järvi brings out the best from the British orchestras for a thoroughly enjoyable outing.

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