Carlo Ponti / Russian National Orchestra

Rimsky-Korsakov: Scheherazade; Capriccio espagnol; Neapolitan Song

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It's hard to imagine more delightful showpieces for a super audio CD than Scheherazade and Capriccio espagñol, two dazzling masterworks by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov that are among his most popular creations. Carlo Ponti's exceptional conducting, the Russian National Orchestra's sumptuous playing, and PentaTone Classic's fantastic multichannel sound combine to make this a dream SACD for any audiophile and a great demo for anyone who wants to show off high-end stereo equipment. But beyond the obvious advantages of this package in terms of performance and recording excellence, the music itself is the biggest draw. Scheherazade is a symphonic suite based upon the "1,001 Arabian Nights," and Rimsky-Korsakov employed all of his orchestral ingenuity to create this richly imaginative score, regarded by some as the composer's best purely instrumental work. Capriccio espagñol is a tour de force of sparkling colors and melodies redolent of Spain, and it has been a hit with audiences ever since its premiere in 1887. To fill out the rest of the program, Ponti has included the jaunty Neapolitan Song, which Rimsky-Korsakov arranged on "Funniculì, Funniculà." This superb album is highly recommended.

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