Loris Tjeknavorian

Borodin: Symphonies Nos. 1-3

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Recorded in 1977 and reissued in 2004, this album of Borodin's three symphonies merits serious attention for its solid interpretations, warm performances, and fine sound, and proves its worth on repeated listening. Loris Tjeknavorian and the National Philharmonic Orchestra devote considerable energy to the rugged Symphony No. 1 in E flat, an optimistic work that features some of the orientalism that would later become Borodin's hallmark. The orchestra is muscular and confident, and Tjeknavorian brings out the work's exoticism while maintaining formal structure through vigorous pacing. Best-known of the three symphonies, the Symphony No. 2 in B minor may sound familiar from its use in the musical Kismet. Its bold opening reveals the mature composer's taste for Asian motives and sudden contrasts of mood, and both contribute significantly to the work's excitement and charm. Conductor and orchestra are at their most vibrant in this full-blooded performance, and Borodin's sumptuous music bursts with dazzling color. The unfinished Symphony No. 3 in A minor may be the least satisfying work of the disc, even though the Scherzo has an impressive ending by Glazunov. But its lush orchestration and tender melodies make it an appealing treat, in spite of its truncation, and the musicians bring it off with great panache.

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