Evgeny Svetlanov was one of the most decorated and celebrated Russian conductors of his generation. He not only rose through the ranks of Russian orchestras, but also achieved additional international acclaim as principal guest conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra. Svetlanov was a champion of Russian literature from popular and easily recognizable to works by composers he thought were unduly neglected. To this end, Svetlanov set out on an unprecedented undertaking to record the body of Russian symphonic literature. This CD of Tchaikovsky's The Seasons and The Tempest is part of that project.
Svetlanov was a master of the quintessential Russian sound -- deep, brooding, lush, and velvety. His recordings are often highly regarded for their musical content and for his remarkable insight into the interpretation of the literature. Technical precision, however, did not typically appear to be foremost on his mind. Such is the case on this album with the State Academy Symphony Orchestra. While there are no technical errors egregious enough to turn a listener away, there are definitely intonation difficulties in the winds and the strings can get sloppy in rapid passages. But the character Svetlanov captures in each of the 12 movements of The Seasons cannot be denied. Each is a little jewel of program music and its expert execution. Likewise in The Tempest, emotion again rises quickly to the forefront. Listeners will be so caught up in the story Svetlanov is telling through the music that the technical deficits will seem far less important.