4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
A Scheherazade first choice?,
This review is from: Rimsky-Korsakov - Scheherazade (Audio CD)
First a bit of preamble. Over the years I have accumulated four versions of Scheherazade starting with one of my favourites: Haitink with the LPO (Philips) on LP which has now seen a little too much wear and not enough love and care. In moving to CD I got Maazel with the Berliner Phil on DG quite a few years ago - which I was never really happy with. Recently I put either Beecham & RPO (EMI) or Serebrier on my Birthday wish list and two different people got me a disc each and now I have both!
First I really like both the Beecham version and this Serebrier version. What is surprising is how different they come across. The artistry in either is excellent and the shipwreck on Serebrier is something of a holographic wonder. There are one or two moments in the Beecham version where I say "that's not right" when Serebrier and Haitink concur. For a bit more flow and richness to the music I listen to Beecham, it also has more weight to the sound and the quiet elements are not too quiet. If I had one critisism of the Serebrier recording is that the orchestra sounds a little distant. Quiet elements suffer a bit if you listen to it with the volume down too much - no matter - you just notch up the volume which only serves to make the climaxes more impressive. The detail in the recorded sound is superb on Serebrier, which helps convey the complex colours in the orchestral sound (the Beecham disc is also remarkable given its 1958 vintage) right through to the intonations and expression in individual instruments. Separately, and crucially, as a piece of music to sit back and enjoy, Serebrier is just fine.
The sleeve notes are some of the more interesting notes for a classical CD (See Bob Zeidler's review, note - his review appears on both US and UK Amazon sites which doesn't "sit right").
So which is first choice - the much acclaimed Beecham or Serebrier? Well I can't do without either. If I was really pushed I'd go for the Serebrier version which also benefits from being complemented with additional Rimsky-Korsakov music (I'm not fond of mixing composers on CDs to fill them out, much that I like Borodin). If you like a rich orchestral sound and more flowing music then lean to Beecham if you only have one choice.
One footnote: if you read the reviews of this disc on the US site you'll see a couple of people think the Serebrier version is played too slowly which I don't particularly concur with. In fact Beecham is slower in parts 1, 2, and 4 and Mazeel is slower in parts 1 and 4, and almost identical in part 3. Both are slower than Serebrier overall simply by comparing track times.
Delivery was slow as it was routed through from the US (>10 days), tho ordered via Amazon UK seller - EliteDigitalUK - avoid this seller.