. . . by which I don't mean that this is the best "Scheherazade" ever -- there are a number of really good ones -- but just that this is a very satisfying performance of some of the loveliest unpretentious music ever written. The thematic material is engaging in a number of different ways, the orchestration is spectacularly inventive, and the internal variety of each of the four sections keeps the listener's ear alive. Sometimes, there's a flavor of Mendelssohnian lightness, sometimes there's a hint of Russian ballet music, and, more odd, to my ear at least there are premonitions of some of the lovely pastoral stuff of Butterworth or Vaughan Williams. The thematic development is informal and by no means thoroughly worked out symphonically, but the aim here -- as Scheherazade's aim was -- is to charm. Add to the mix great Telarc early-1990's sound, with Mackerras on the ball, and you have a very lovely recording. In the "Capriccio Espanol" too, Rimsky knows when enough is enough -- his material never outstays its welcome, and this tribute to Spain is atmospheric and lively. I wouldn't say that this is an indispensable recording, but if you don't have this music, this is as good a recording of it as any.