Mikhail Pletnev / Russian National Orchestra

Rimsky-Korsakov: Orchestral Suites

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While the old saying "All that glitters is not gold" wasn't coined with Rimsky-Korsakov's orchestral works in mind, it might well have been. As shown by the three pieces here -- the suites from the operas The Snow Maiden and The Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh, Night on Mount Triglav, and from the ballet-opera Mlada -- Rimsky-Korsakov was profligate in his use of glittering sounds: tinkling percussion, twittering winds, shimmering strings, and the occasional crashing cymbal. The Russian late Romantic master was adept at integrating such onomatopoetic sounds into his scores so that they come across less like sound effects than as unified parts of the whole. Mikhail Pletnev and the Russian National Orchestra are less successful at creating a unified whole out of any of these works. Though the musicians play brilliantly, with plenty of color and virtuosity, Pletnev sounds like more of a tourist than a native; he happily notes all the sights along the way, but seems to have little idea where he's going and less idea of how to get there. If energy and beauty are your sole criteria, this spectacularly recorded PentaTone disc will be just the thing. If, however, form and content are more important, Evgeny Svetlanov's recordings of these works are more effective. Though the sound is far less impressive, the performances are far more cogent and convincing.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
Suite from Snow Maiden
1 03:33 Amazon
2 02:51 Amazon
3 01:49 Amazon
4 03:42 Amazon
Suite from Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh and the Maiden Fevroniya
5 04:26 Amazon
6 03:15 Amazon
7 04:23 Amazon
8 08:28 Amazon
Nuit sur le Mont Triglav (3rd Act of the Ballet Opera Mlada)
9 08:59 Amazon
10 02:34 Amazon
11 04:09 Amazon
12 08:19 Amazon
13 03:56 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick