Various Artists

Winterträume: Russische Orchesterwerke

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Berlin Classics' album Wintertraume (Winter Dreams) offers listeners a smattering of mostly well-known excerpts from the incredibly broad field of Russian orchestral works. What any of the tracks necessarily have to do with either winter or dreams is anyone's guess. Performances are given by several of Germany's popular orchestras, including the Dresden Philharmonic, Dresden Staatskapelle, and the Berlin Symphony Orchestra, to name a few of the highlights. The problem for listeners when faced with so many different orchestras that change from track to track is the completely different sound aesthetic each ensemble puts forth. The result is a seemingly uneven album of mediocre performances that may not do the job of motivating listeners to go out and buy the complete recordings of any of the works heard here. Kurt Masur's reading of the first movement of Prokofiev's sparkling First Symphony, for example, is slow and cumbersome, while violinist Robert Chen's performance of Tchaikovsky's Serenade Melancholique is often quite out of tune. The star track of the album is Peter Rosel's interpretation of the third movement (an odd choice) of Rachmaninoff's Second Piano Concerto. This offering combines the best qualities of musicality and sound quality to be found on the album.

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