Balakirev Symphony No.1 Mily Balakirev was a 19th century Russian Romantic composer. He became the leader of a group of nationalist composers known as The Five or, in Russian, moguchaya kuchka - the Mighty Handful. Balakirev, a brilliant pianist as well as composer, was the only full-time professional musician in the group. The other four were only part-time composers: Alexander Borodin was a medical chemist and Cesar Cui, Modest Mussorgsky and Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov were all military men.
This CD has the first of his two symphonies played by the Russian State Symphony Orchestra conducted by Igor Golovschin. This four-movement work has the running scherzo as second movement. This sounds like it could have been composed by Mendelssohn if he had stayed a while in Russia. The beautiful slow movement (marked Andante) with its limpid theme introduced by the clarinet comes third and the finale (shades of Borodin's Prince Igor?) consists of a trio of themes, the first two derived from Russian folk melodies.
There are two generous `fillers' on the CD. First Balakirev's piano fantasy Islamey in the form orchestrated by Alexandr Liapunov and the even more substantial (23 min) tone poem Tamara that is a setting of a poem by Mikhail Lermontov - the poet whose poem `The Crag' inspired a tone poem of Rachmaninoff's. Enjoyable, accessible music well played by the Russian orchestra.