Edward Downes / Vassily Sinaisky / BBC Philharmonic Orchestra

The Glière Orchestral Collection

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In the 1990s, Chandos and conductor Edward Downes undertook a series to record the major orchestral compositions of neglected composer Reinhold Glière. This included Glière's symphonies, suites from his ballets, and tone poems and concert overtures. This 2011 box set brings together those five discs, digitally remastered. Glière was a contemporary of Rachmaninov and Prokofiev, but his style of writing was in direct line of heritage with the vibrant and theatrical music of Rimsky-Korsakov, Borodin, and Tchaikovsky, perhaps explaining why it was overshadowed by the music of his more modern-sounding compatriots. Downes was known for his knowledge of both Russian music and of opera, which made him an excellent conductor of Glière's music. He brought out both the color and drama, tempered with clarity and control for these recordings. Highlights of this music include The Red Poppy suite (featuring the famous "Russian Sailor's Dance") and the Symphony No. 3 "Ilya Muromets," based on the legend of the medieval Russian hero. The final disc in the set is made up of the shorter orchestral works, conducted by Vassily Sinaisky, whose readings closely match those of Downes, with perhaps a bit more lushness to them, particularly in the lyrical passages of the overture to Shakh-Senem and the Ballad, Op. 4. The sound is generally very good, if a little flat, not quite as rich as would truly make the music shine. Overall, it's a pleasing collection for anyone who enjoys the Russian Romantics, but doesn't know Glière yet.

Track Listing - Disc 3

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Symphony No. 1 in E flat major, Op. 8
1 12:31
2 06:59
3 08:04
4 06:51
Suite from "The Red Poppy", Op. 70
5 03:47
6 06:39
7 01:49
8 01:52
9 05:43
10 02:24
11 04:00

Track Listing - Disc 4

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Suite from "The Bronze Horseman"
1 03:05
2 02:26
3 02:18
4 02:09
5 01:12
6 04:43
7 06:15
8 02:46
9 03:34
10 07:01
11 03:44
12 03:12
13 03:51
Concerto for Horn and Orchestra, Op. 91
14 11:34
15 06:25
16 05:58
blue highlight denotes track pick