Thomas Sanderling

Prokofiev: Symphony No. 5; Tchaikovsky: Romeo & Juliet

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One wants it to be good. After all, Thomas Sanderling is not only the son of the great conductor Kurt Sanderling, he is an accomplished conductor in his own right. And the Novosibirsk Academic Symphony Orchestra may not be the better known of Russian orchestras, but surely they must be at least a more than adequate provincial orchestra. Unfortunately, with the best will in the world, this 2006 recording of Prokofiev's Fifth Symphony and Tchaikovsky's Romeo and Juliet Overture by Sanderling and the Novosibirsk cannot be said to even be mediocre. It might be the orchestra. The strings are raw and scrappy too much of the time. The winds are weak and colorless most of the time. The brass is brash and blunt almost all the time. And while the percussion section is precise nearly all the time, the attack is far more brutal than refined. It could be the conductor. Sanderling seems able to lead the band forward, to balance the sections and to maintain the tempos, but his interpretations are so bland as to be generic. The heroism of Prokofiev's Fifth and the passion of Tchaikovsky's Overture are muted and muffled. And let's not forget the sound, which, despite being recorded in super audio, is dim, dull, and distant. There are dozens of better recordings of both works -- try the classic Mravinsky/Leningrad Fifth and the magnificent Abbado/Boston Romeo -- but, unless you're a big fan of lesser Russian orchestras, stay away from this one.

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