Szell Conducts Russian Music
George Szell, conductor
The Cleveland Orchestra
I love Russian orchestral music. Have I said this before? Maybe, but I'm saying it again. This is probably heavily influenced by the fact that we played a lot of Russian music in orchestra, both in high school and in college. Interestingly, we played Rimsky-Korsakov's Capriccio Espagnol in both high school and college, and not surprisingly it is one of my favorite orchestral works. The Polovtsian Dances we did in college as well, as part of an all Russian concert in which we also performed the Capriccio Espagnol and Borodin's In the Steppes of Central Asia. We were the non-music major orchestra at Northwestern University, but did we get a full house that night at Pick-Staiger and a standing ovation. Kudos to then-conductor Stephen Alltop, who has now been replaced by Robert Hasty. In any case, George Szell and the Cleveland Orchestra give an outstanding performance on this recording of both of the Capriccio Espagnol and the Polovtsian Dances. Sound quality is excellent. I've never been a big fan of Mussorgsky's Prelude from Khovantschina, but it is here to perhaps provide some calm relief from the otherwise high-energy repertoire. I would've preferred Night on Bald Mountain. Tchaikovsky's Capriccio Italien rounds out the set.
Again, I want to point out that the stampers here are the U.S. stampers, BC1002 A-1, B-1, which I suspect denote a first pressing. This album was released as Epic Stereorama BC1002. Unlike the previous Mendelssohn album I just wrote about, I don't have the U.S. pressing of this record and cannot compare, but if it follows in the same vein as the Mendelssohn, I wouldn't be surprised if the U.S. and U.K. pressings sound pretty identical. The U.S. one will be far less than the U.K. pressing for sure. This is available on CD from Sony Masterworks, most recently remastered in 2005 I believe with Szell's recording of Pictures at an Exhibition. Now that is one dynamite Russian music CD at budget price!!