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73 of 73 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars superb scheherazade, 9 Mar. 2007
This review is from: Rimsky-Korsakov: Scheherazade (DECCA The Originals) (Audio CD)
This is one of the great performances of Scheherazade. Rimsky-korsakov's fairy-tale suite has been recorded many times but it requires a combination of factors to fulfil its potential. Here the Russian conductor Kondrashin brings fire and energy, while the Concergebouw orchestra bring refinement and detail. The recording balance is ideal, warm but with clarity. The percussion is audiable but never overdone.

Kondrashin's view is expansive and generous, the Young Prince And Princess (third movement) subtle and sensual, the opening movement with Sindbad, swifter, with irresistable (and appropriate) waves of excitement.

This is a performance I play often, and it is wonderful to have the original sleeve reinstated (with an illustration by Kay Nielson, the famous Danish book illustrator who contributed designs to the original Fantasia).
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A much admired Scheherazade coupled to an exciting `live' Borodin from Kondrashin, 8 Nov. 2013
By 
I. Giles (Argyll, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Rimsky-Korsakov: Scheherazade (DECCA The Originals) (Audio CD)
This disc, well recorded in 1980, illustrates two sides of Kondrashin as a conductor. The Scheherazade is a studio recording where it is evident that great care was taken in the preparation of the recording whereas the Borodin was taped at a `live' concert where different perspectives appear to have been considered. This will come as no surprise to those who collect both studio and `live' concert recordings.

Kondrashin was renowned as a recording conductor as one who had a reputation for creating contrasts and special sound colours. In particular his starting point was to establish the extremes of piano, or soft playing, (sleeve note verification) and to build climaxes from that point upwards. In order to do this he had to make use of sophisticated and painstaking sound blends using the combinations of orchestral instruments available in any one piece.

This Scheherazade is a good example of these techniques. The opening movement is an emotionally quieter piece than is often portrayed with the emphasis appearing to be on the young story teller rather than the forbidding and frightening character of her new husband. By the time we get to the final movement with the shipwreck, things have warmed up interpretively, speeds are lively and the final climax is achieved with a sense of inevitability.

The Borodin symphony, on the other hand, is far more direct in its effect with far less blended textures and with the brass more dominant. This is a different side of Kondrashin aiming for the excitement of the moment and achieving more excitement than at any time in the Scheherazade. This performance is along the lines of the famous Martinon/LSO disc from twenty years earlier and still one of the most exciting if a little rough round the edges at times.

Collectors who are aware of the famously exciting recordings of Scheherazade by Monteux/LSO, Reiner/Chicago (with a final movement reputedly taken in one take - and it shows!) and more recently, Jarvi with the Scottish orchestra will know what I mean when I make the distinction between them and this very considered version in terms of sheer adrenalin rush. Those who do not know these other recordings are missing something and are advised to find out what!

This new mastering in 24 bit and 96 kHz technology offers a slight improvement over the previous good issue. The great advantage of this disc though lies in the additional exciting performance of the Borodin - a performance rather than a recording.

No-one who loves this Scheherazade will be less than delighted with this disc. The recording is satisfying, well considered and delivered and is fine for repeat listening. The Borodin offers more. So do other recordings of the Scheherazade and I would suggest the Reiner and Jarvi discs for a start. The Jarvi was recorded at 24 bits etc. from the start and the Reiner is now available in an excellent re-mastered SACD version that sounds good in stereo.

This disc nevertheless remains a good value product and will offer much satisfaction for its purchasers.
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pure bliss, 17 Nov. 2010
By 
David Oliver (IL) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Rimsky-Korsakov: Scheherazade (DECCA The Originals) (Audio CD)
After hearing so many mediocre performances and downright bad renditions of this beautiful piece I didn't listen to this CD for 2 days after it arrived (hated to be disappointed again).
But I'm absolutely delighted that finally I can enjoy Scheherazade.
This is the best I've heard and I think likely to.
Perfection in tempo, unison, technical skills and the conductor's direction bring out all the images the composer has woven into it - what a stunning performance!
I bought this CD on the strength of the previous reviews and I'm grateful to the reviewers who took the time to comment.
Unparalleled.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best performance of the Borodin symphony even if it is live, 29 May 2013
This review is from: Rimsky-Korsakov: Scheherazade (DECCA The Originals) (Audio CD)
Although the Rimsky-Korsakov Scheherazade is given as the lead work on this disc I would rate the Borodin Second Symphony as the more substantial work. It is important to realize that this is the composer's Prince Igor symphony, containing as it does ideas which were intended for the first draft of the opera. As in the Prince Igor overture, the symphony is punctuated by herald like fanfares. The symphony was well regarded by other members of "The Mighty Handful", Mussorgsky stating that "The strength of a lion is in that symphony". It is in my opinion the most important Russian symphony of the 19th century being a better constructed more integrated work than any of the Tchaikovsky symphonies. Unfortunately it has received many poor performances perhaps because it is no longer standard repertoire although it does get performed enthusiastically by Mark Elder and the Halle Orchestra. However the poor performances have given some people the impression that the music lacks substance. There was in particular a dry inflexible performance in 1971 by Evgeny Svetlanov conducting the USSR Symphony Orchestra in which the opening movement was very slow giving the impression of unfamiliarity by the conductor. Perhaps he did not warm to a symphony portraying an assembly of knights in mediaeval Russia. Among earlier stereo performances, perhaps the best were: the 1954 recording by the Suisse Romande Orchestra conducted by Ernest Ansermet, the 1959 recording by the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Jean Martinon, the 1968 recording by the Suisse Romande Orchestra conducted by Silvio Varviso, and the 1972 recording by the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Vaclav Smetacek. The Ansermet recording lacks weight, perhaps because of its age, the Martinon recording has a rushed first movement and tends to sound strident, and the Smetacek recording while well paced and recorded also lacks weight. The Varviso is perhaps the best paced but it does not have the body of sound which we would normally expect from a Russian orchestra. As far as I am aware it has never appeared on CD. Although the 1980 Kondrashin recording is from a live performance it does not seem to have suffered from excessive audience noise. There is one noticeable cough in each of the first three movements with applause at the end . The pacing is for the most part well judged and the conductor has been able to get the Russian spirit into the music. The dynamism and warmth is ideal with wildness and lyricism where appropriate.
Rimsky-Korsakov"s Scheherazade had two fine early stereo recordings by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Sir Thomas Beecham and the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Pierre Monteux. An even better recording arrived in 1969 with the USSR Symphony Orchestra conducted by Evgeny Svetlanov. Unlike the Borodin Symphony Number 2, Svetlanov had a much better grasp of Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade. Had I not heard the Svetlanov I would probably be happy with the Kondrashin, but in the event he sounds tame by comparison. The Svetlanov is so much more full of punch, precision and insight that it is ahead of any other performance I have heard. However the listener should be ready for some of the most raw, virile Russian brass on record. This is particularly so in the second movement which also contains some superb exotic woodwind. The 1972 Stereo Record Guide gave this recording top recommendation stating that: "The whole reading is immensely satisfying and the performance, like the really outstanding Russian recording, has a superb sense of atmosphere". This was issued in a five CD bargain set of Svetlanov's Rimsky-Korsakov recordings by Warner Brothers French in 2007. Among various pieces such as the three symphonies the set includes a leaden footed performance of the other well known Rimsky-Korsakov orchestral work Capriccio Espagnol. Better performances are available elsewhere such as the collection on Chandos conducted by Vassily Sinaisky. A single disc of Svetlanov's Scheherazade coupled with Sadko , Fantasia on Serbian Themes and At the Tomb was issued by Melodiya but is I believe currently unavailable. For anyone who does not like the rough sound of Russian orchestras, Svetlanov later performed Scheherazade with the London Symphony Orchestra. This was a live performance made available on BBC Classics but highly regarded by some reviewers.
For anyone interested in the Borodin Symphony Number 1 which is now a rare work, there used to be a fine Melodiya recording with the Moscow Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by Gennady Rozhdestvensky. The conductor had a strong sense of commitment in his Russian orchestra recordings not evident in his performances with western orchestras. For any company interested in reissuing it I suggest that it would go well with the Rozhdestvensky recording of the Enescu Symphony Number 1, another fine symphony which is not a repertoire piece. Rachmaninov's The Rock which was the original coupling for the Borodin symphony on the Melodiya LP would make a nice filler.
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23 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of his very best, 29 May 2010
By 
Albert Kleyn (Cork, Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Rimsky-Korsakov: Scheherazade (DECCA The Originals) (Audio CD)
This is one piece of Music which must be in your collection. Perhaps I am biased as I have all 16 volumes of the 1001 night tales, translated directly from the Arabic. Korsakov excels himself in this music and one can follow the stories in the music. The very last cords still bring tears to eyes and I am 65 and no longer prone to superflous emotions. If you have ever read the original Arabic translations you know that the books hold countless hours of pleasure in store for you. Reading them, while the music plays softly in the background is one of life's joys, of which at my age there aren't too many any more. Buy it, listen to it and be transported to a different world, a world where all is still possible.
AlbertRimsky-Korsakov: Sheherazade
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A guarantee of quality, 28 Jan. 2010
By 
Rjparish "ray parish" (Dorset UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Rimsky-Korsakov: Scheherazade (DECCA The Originals) (Audio CD)
This version of Scheherazade was recommended to me by a friend, I only wish that I had known of it long before!! It is a beautifully crisp and clean sound from the Concertgebouw, as one would I suppose expect. This disc would have been a 'must' at twice this asking price, an exellent buy.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Plus a 'live recording' of Borodin's symphony No.2, 15 Dec. 2011
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This review is from: Rimsky-Korsakov: Scheherazade (DECCA The Originals) (Audio CD)
I suppose I mustn't have quite read all reviews properly first - when this arrived today I was completely surprised to find the 'symphony No.2' was by Borodin (not mentioned in product details or sample tracks) - for some reason I was expecting it to be Rimsky-Korsakov's No.2. Plus, the Borodin part of this disc is a 'live recording' with applause at the end.

I'm a bit dull I suppose, but I tend to shy away from 'live' recordings, and if they are 'live', I at least want the applause removed... nor was I looking for another Borodin symphony No.2, so, if this product page had informed me of these little details I'd have thought twice about buying it.

However... I immediately really liked the Scheherazade, can't imagine it being performed better than this, so I won't complain too much while I make my mind up about the Borodin.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning, 16 Feb. 2014
By 
Bill Glen - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Rimsky-Korsakov: Scheherazade (DECCA The Originals) (Audio CD)
There is widespread acknowledgement that this remains a superb recording of Scheherazade and I don't need to add my reasons why it is such a great disc. For me it is up there with Beecham and Reiner as an interpretation on record.

I would only comment that some of the professional criticism I,ve come across has been sniffy about the coupling with Borodin's second symphony recorded at a live concert. It is a vivid account of the Borodin which would be at the top of my list of recommended recordings for this symphony but for only one factor...alas....some unhelpful audience coughing. yet I wouldn't make too much of that as the performance itself is one of stature and is otherwise well recorded from a live concert. Make no mistake both are great recordings and the Borodin is a valuable bonus.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous, romantic, rivetting!, 1 May 2011
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This review is from: Rimsky-Korsakov: Scheherazade (DECCA The Originals) (Audio CD)
I think this is the most superb rendering of "Scheherazade" ever recorded. I had it for years on cassette and am thrilled to find it on CD at last. For me it is the most classic version of this romantic and stirring suite. The colour and movement in the music that Kondrashin manages to inject, is what sets it apart from other, lesser, renditions. The storm at sea is so good one almost feels the ship heaving under one's feet. As someone who has spent long periods at sea, this is to me the best depiction of the sea in music ever written.

The distinctive, bewitching voice of Scheherazade herself is wistfully realised by Herman Krebbers on the violin as it gracefully weaves its way in and out of each of the stories she tells. No wonder her sultan couldn't bear to lose her. Do yourself a favour - Buy it! But you will need plenty of time because you will want to listen to it again and again and again....
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb, 3 April 2010
By 
A. Koutoula (Athens,Greece) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Rimsky-Korsakov: Scheherazade (DECCA The Originals) (Audio CD)
One of my favourite pieces of classical music perfomed by the best orchestra in the world. It`s magical.
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Rimsky-Korsakov: Scheherazade (DECCA The Originals)
Rimsky-Korsakov: Scheherazade (DECCA The Originals) by Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra (Audio CD - 2006)
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