This album of Russian orchestral works is a rather interesting combination of composers. Rimsky-Korsakov, Mussorgsky, and Borodin were members of an elitist group of composers known as the Russian Five, a group who in part took their inspiration from Glinka. Then there's Tchaikovsky, a composer whose works today embody what many Westerners consider to be archetypal Russian music, but who was considered a throw-back by the Five. Despite their personal and political relationships, the five works heard here do indeed provide an enjoyable representation of some of the most popular and familiar Russian works. The Dresden Philharmonic, lead by Jorg-Peter Weigle, offers consistently strong interpretations of the five pieces, although referring to them as "Reference" recordings as the album does may be a bit of a stretch. Glinka's Overture to Ruslan and Ludmilla is technically quite clean, but a bit on the slow side. Rimsky-Korsakov's Capriccio Espagnol -- the strongest performance on the album -- is very energetic and features excellent solos throughout the orchestra as well as enjoyably aggressive playing from the brass section. Like the Glinka, Mussorgsky's A Night on the Bare Mountain and Tchaikovsky's Romeo and Juliet fantasy overture are accurate but unexciting. The album closes with Borodin's Polovitsian Dances, where the orchestra returns to the more energetic and rousing playing heard in the Rimsky-Korsakov.
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AllMusic Review by Mike D. Brownell
|Capriccio espagnol (Kaprichchio na ispankskiye temï), for orchestra, Op. 34|
|Prince Igor, opera (completed by Rimsky-Korsakov & Glazunov)|