Usually, collections of the most popular works by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov include his Capriccio espagnol, as well as the Procession of the Nobles, Song of India, Russian Easter Festival Overture, and last but not least, The Flight of the Bumblebee. However, on this 2007 Chandos release by Vassily Sinaisky and the BBC Philharmonic, only the Capriccio espagnol remains from the list above; the rest of the album is filled with less familiar but perfectly delightful concert pieces which deserve to be played much more frequently. The overtures to The Maid of Pskov and The Tsar's Bride represent Rimsky-Korsakov's considerable operatic output, and while they may be as formulaic as the Russian Easter Festival Overture, they have lively melodies, exciting developments, stirring recapitulations, and the vivid orchestration for which the composer is justly celebrated. Less standardized, perhaps, but just as tuneful and colorful are the brooding Legend and the jaunty Neapolitan Song (a clever arrangement Luigi Denza's Finiculì, Finiculà), which are seldom performed but warrant more attention; the Sinfonietta on Russian Themes, arranged for orchestra from an abandoned string quartet, yet quite enjoyable in its orchestral guise and memorable for its strong nationalist flavor. The Capriccio concludes the program with high energy and dazzling sound, and Sinaisky and the orchestra give it a bravura performance, decidedly the most fiery of the disc. Chandos' sound is fine throughout, but is exceptionally wide, deep, clear, and resonant in the final selection.
AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|The Maid of Pskov (Pskovityanka) (standard version), opera in 3 acts with a prologue|
|Fairy Tale (Skazka, or Baba Yaga), tone poem for orchestra, Op. 29|
|Sinfonietta on Russian Themes, for orchestra in A minor, Op. 31|
|Capriccio espagnol (Kaprichchio na ispankskiye temï), for orchestra, Op. 34|