Top positive review
22 people found this helpful
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.