JoAnn Falletta / Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra

Glière: Symphony No. 3 "Il'ya Muromets"

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In the west, Reinhold Glière is best known for the "Russian Sailor's Dance" from his successful ballet The Red Poppy, though his other works are starting to be explored more extensively. A prime example is the Symphony No. 3 in B minor, "Il'ya Muromets," a vibrant programmatic work that has received increased attention, with several recordings appearing since the 1990s. As conductor JoAnn Falletta says in her notes for her recording with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra on Naxos, it has become a cult piece. This is no doubt due to its exciting medieval subject, its colorful scoring in the manner of Rimsky-Korsakov, and monumental length, all of which make it irresistible to lovers of post-Romantic symphonies and tone poems. Its vivid representations of nature and lush atmosphere make it the kind of accessible but not overplayed music audiences take to easily. Falletta and her orchestra performed the symphony in 2013, live and without cuts, so the work's rich expressions and epic scope are conveyed with more impressive effect than Leopold Stokowski's truncated version, which he recorded in the mid-20th century. While this recording must compete with several other complete versions, it should be counted among the best, and it is recommended for any newcomers to this fascinating symphony.

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