Thomas Sanderling

Taneyev: Orestia Overture & Interlude; Overture in D minor; Overture on a Russian Theme

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For admirers of the symphonic music of Sergey Taneyev, this 2009 Naxos disc featuring seven of his single-movement orchestral works will be welcome. Most of the works here are fairly early, with two dating from his nineteenth year, and many will be new to all but the most dedicated of the composer's advocates. The readings by the Novosibirsk Academic Symphony Orchestra under the strong leadership of Thomas Sanderling are more than run-throughs, but less than hell-bent-for-glory performances. For all the musician's dedication, though, they cannot make more out of this music than is there to begin with. And what's there to begin with is fairly insipid and uninspired. The early works, though clearly written by a talented and skillful composer, have almost no discernible identity of their own. Even knowledgeable fans of late Romantic Russian music, hearing the Overture on Russian Themes for the first time, would be hard pressed to name the composer or identify him as a Russian. The later works also conspicuously lack character. The Oresteia Overture is, to use the standard critical trope, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing except the composer's ability to fill a canvas for nearly 21 minutes with late Romantic melodies, harmonies, and gestures that add up to little more than note-spinning. Recorded in clear but oddly disembodied sound, this disc will likely be of interest to only the most hardcore Taneyev fans.

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