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4.6 out of 5 stars17
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 10 July 2010
Borodin was Professor of Chemistry at the University of St. Petersburg and arguably the most brilliant medical scientist in Russia and his scientific and administrative commitments made it difficult for him to compose and composition of some works spread out over a number of years; some of his works were completed by his close friend Rimsky-Korsakov and by Glazunov but are unmistakably Borodin's. The 152 minutes of music on these two CDs therefore represent a substantial portion of Borodin's repertoire - including his "Greatest Hits" and some lesser known works.

I agree with everything R.J. Knight has said but hope to offer a different perspective. Sir George Solti is a conductor who does not impose his own ego on works and allows the composer's music to speak for itself, so the overture and the Polovtsian dances from Prince Igor are in the best possible hands. Borodin was the illegitimate son of a Tartar Prince and this shows in the melodies and passion in the music.

Pizzicato strings and haunting woodwind sounds are the hallmark of Borodin's compositions and these are evident towards the end of his "exploratory" first symphony. The second symphony is substantial with an authoritative first movement and a creative 2nd movement scherzo; however it is the slow third movement, with its haunting harp/horn introduction and its wonderful lyricism, interspersed with the threat of menace, that make the hairs on the back of MY neck rise; this leads into an energetic and celebratory finale.

This is a very evocative "In The Steppes Of Central Asia" and the recording is unusually free from background noise during the very quiet beginning and ending.
It has an authentic Russian melancholy. If you like In The Steppes of Central Asia you'll probably enjoy the two movements of the "unfinished" 3rd. symphony.

In addition you have his 2nd. String Quartet (I don't much care for string quartets but this is one of the finest, especially the third movement where the sonorous cello is dominant) and a song: "For The Shores Of Your Far-off Native Land" inspired by the death of his friend Modest Mussorgsky.

This disc is outstanding value and really is the best introduction to the heart-rendingly beautiful and uniquely original music of Alexander Borodin.
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on 1 March 2010
With any collection of Borodin's work that uses the adjective 'essential', if nothing else, you want good versions of the 'Polovtsian Dances' and 'In The Steppes Of Central Asia'. Well, with this bargain priced two CD set you get that and much more.

True, the first symphony sounds like just that, a first effort; the third symphony, too, sounds like its subtitle,'unfinished', a work in progress, so to speak, and; while the second symphony is a more substantial piece with some lively, distinctly Russian, melodic themes, and the third movement of his string quartet No. 2 never fails to arrive like a charming old friend, it is the 'Polovtsian Dances' and 'In The Steppes Of Central Asia' that tower above everything else on these two discs. Sir George Solti and the London Symphony Orchestra give a truly remarkable performance of the 'Polovtsian Dances' - when the Chorus make their arrival they easily pass the 'raising the hairs on the back of your neck' test.

There is nothing worse than hearing one of your favourite pieces performed by an orchestra that plays as though its bladder is about to burst so, thankfully, Ernest Ansermet, with L'Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, serves up a fine, measured and heartfelt rendition of 'In The Steppes Of Central Asia' without letting the momentum of the work run away with them.

In summary, then, this collection gives you great performances of Borodin's best work, at a good price, together with quite a few interesting extras. You might even detect, as with Bordin's Russian contemporaries - Rimsky-Korsakov, Glazunov, Tchaikovsky et.al.- music that clearly influenced one or two British composers.
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VINE VOICEon 10 August 2010
This is a good introduction to Borodin's music. A very generous selection of this fine Russian composer's music, in generally worthy performances.

However, the second symphony, arguably the greatest work on this 2 CD set, is really showing its age, with dry and close recording from 1960. This does the L.S.O. string section no favours, sounding distictly thin in places. Also Martinon drives the work rather hard. There are much better recordings of the 2nd symphony from Ashkenazy (Decca), Tjeknavorian (RCA) and Kondrashin (Philips). There is also a wonderful 'Russian'-sounding performance conducted, with his usual elan, by Svetlanov on Melodiya.

But if you are starting a Borodin collection from scratch, this is a good place to start.
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on 21 October 2013
Bought this for 'On the Steppes of Central Asia' that I think is a truly lovely and evocative piece of music, but I am also exploring Borodin's other works on here as well, some of which I recognise and like. I was particularly delighted to discover that by buying this CD, I also got additional MP3 download of the tracks added to my Amazon Icloud account, so I'm able listen to it when Online.. Thanks Amazon
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on 25 July 2015
This budget recording provides the listener with an excellent range of Borodin's delightful and atmospheric music, beautifully played and recorded, an affordable taster for further investigation into the prolific works of this superb and often under-valued Russian composer.
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on 6 January 2016
Good to have an almost total archive of Borodin. It is good to learn that quite a lot of his works were inspired by the Polovtsi, Turks and other Central Asian people. I felt proud of my ancestors!
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on 13 December 2014
Our choir was going to sing Borodin's No 17 of the Polovtsian Dances from Prince Igor. I found this recording not only useful for practising but also very enjoyable to listen to.
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on 9 September 2015
Good music for enjoy. The polovotsian dances with chorus sound more brilliant than I' ve ever head before. The Prince Igor oberture makes you fly higher and spin around
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on 16 March 2016
Really pleased with the CD; just what I was hoping for and delivery was good as well.
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on 8 December 2015
Lovely to listen and relax to.
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