This is repertoire that was known to me, but short of great recordings and so it's wonderful to have a disc that fills that void, from one of the best orchestra/conductor combinations in the world.
The recording quality is wonderful and there are plenty of earth-shattering climaxes where you might reach for the volume control, as the timpani and gongs blast the ears. Dynamic range is wide on CD, from the opening pianissimo to huge tuttis and this is no lightweight, as we would expect from a Russian composer.
Conductor, Berlin Phil, choirs and soloists all impress with their virtuosity throughout and I am glad to have heard this material. However, I can't help thinking that the Bells has a slightly dour ending and that the Symphonic Dances are too weighty for a ballet score. There are great moments and setpieces where you hear what this is all about, but I'm not sure either piece works as a whole or is completely satisfying?
I can't imagine anybody making a more eloquent case than these forces, however and it feels wrong to complain about such wonderful music-making. But for me, this repertoire's not quite up there with the piano works, but certainly worth a listen.