Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra / Kirill Kondrashin

Rimsky-Korsakov: Russische Ostern; Franck: Symphony in D minor

(CD - BR Klassik #900704)

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Russian-born conductor Kyrill Kondraschin conducted the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks for the first time in February 1980. Regrettably, this was to be his only engagement with the orchestra. Despite the favorable reception he was given, and the fact that the orchestra began the process of having Kondraschin succeed famed conductor Rafael Kubelík; Kondraschin died of a heart attack early the next year. This BR Klassik disc is a live performance of his conducting debut with the BRSO, performing Rimsky-Korsakov's Russian Easter Overture and Franck's D minor Symphony. Listeners will immediately recognize just what a loss Kondraschin's death was to the BRSO. Even at the beginning of their relationship, the conductor's strong personality already shines through with his masterful control of tone, dynamics, and pacing. The Rimsky-Korsakov is, as would be expected, big, expansive, and robust. What's a little surprising is that these same characteristics are brought to the Franck. The first movement is driven, focused, and wonderfully tense. The brass section in particular is bold and almost aggressive, blasting its way through the Finale in a way that doesn't seem obnoxious, but exhilarating. Few other performances of this symphony can claim to offer such a vivacious, potent interpretation; Franck's symphony may have had a much warmer reception at its premiere had Kondraschin been at the helm.

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