The reviews praising the recordings are justified and I can't usefully add to them, but given they have been around for a long time and many reissued in various guises, we might have expected something better from Warner. It's obviously good to have 5 Cds worth of Svetlanov RK but the issue is a paradigm of cheapskating and lack of care, attention to detail and respect for the subject. Hence three stars and that's generous:
1. the Cds are reasonably full but there was ample room to accommodate missing Svetlanov RK recordings. 2. In the very thin booklet, the recording dates are not attributed to individual pieces and it's thus not easy to track which recordings we actually have here. (I've not found a useful Svetlanov discography on the web). 3. The listings attribute the band as the 'USSR Symphony Orchestra', yet the edition elsewhere is labelled the 'State Orchestra of the Russian Federation'. Accurately, the 'USSR State Symphony Orchestra' gave way in the eighties to the 'State Academic SO of the Russian Federation'. As it happens I believe some of these recordings were by the Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra anyway. 4. the article by Nina Svetlanova (who she?.. wife, daughter, niece - we're not told) is neat but it's the same one page included in the entire Warner Svetlanov reissue. Astonishingly it makes no mention of Rimsky-Korsakov so nothing here gives us a clue as to what Svetlanov's performing interest and relationship was with the composer's music. We know nothing else about the conductor or these historic recordings from the booklet. 5. the timing of the Russian Easter Festival Overture is actually 14.53 not 11.53 and in the later description the English title of the piece is grossly misspelt.
This Warner Svetlanov Edition was greeted enthusiastically on issue, the Miaskovsky symphonies receiving a last minute top accolade in the Gramophone Awards, and it's obviously very good to have them, but in terms of quality the issue itself is nothing special and Svetlanov deserves much better in the way of presentation as a memorial to his legacy. Maybe that will fall to Melodiya one day.
Although advertised as "complete" it does not actually include ALL Rimsky-Korsakov's orchestral works - some concerti and some opera suites are missing, for example. Nor does it include everything that Svetlanov conducted.
Nevertheless this is an outstanding set, full of interest and variety, with glorious accounts of the symphonic music and plenty of glitter and dazzle in the fairy-tales.
The sound is good for the vintage and I've really enjoyed listening to all the discs. A shame there's no information or context in the booklet though...
This box set is a grand bargain on any side of the Atlantic. The British amazon.com is a company I have had no problem dealing with. Their prices on such quality items such as this one are very competitive. This and other items were delivered within 2 weeks of ordering.