A cornucopia of color effects graces this album, not the least of which is Liadov’s splendid 1906 collection of Russian folksongs, which I first heard in excerpt with Stokowski, then all of the set with Nicolai Malko. Taken from an RCA 4-track tape, the performance under Previn (rec. 1966) has a sensitively dynamic, polychromatic range that runs from the low strings to the triangle and battery section. The plucked strings, in I Danced with a Mosquito, for instance, simply shimmer with elastic energy. A Christmas Carol and Village Dance Song convey the heraldry of which Liadov was capable; an eminent miniaturist, his melodic gifts rival those of Rimsky-Korsakov.
I have always been partial to Tchaikovsky’s Little Russian Symphony (1872; rev. 1880) ever since I inadvertently purchased a recording of it by Eugene Goossens and the Cincinnati Symphony on Camden labeled the “Cromwell Symphony Orchestra.” When I heard the Mitropoulos recording from Minneapolis, I was convinced. Previn gives the opening Andante sustenuto–Allegro vivo a definite girth and carefully molded phrasings. The upward scales proceed with a heavy tread worthy of Moussorgsky. We can hear Barry Tuckwell’s French horn quite clearly at the opening–Down the Mother Volga– and just prior to the contrapuntal development section. Tuckwell again for the extended coda against plucked strings, and then the descent via bassoon. The martial second movement takes a tune from Ondine and enhances it as a love song, an answer to Mendelssohn’s Wedding March. Nice flute work by the LSO. The spirit of the ballet soon invades the space with whirling effects, and the ensuing pageant becomes the stuff from which most of Glazounov is made. Rousing trumpets and strings, busy agogics, for the Scherzo, a determined gallop that yields to a charming Trio. Previn keeps a tight fist on Tchaikovsky’s bass line, juxtaposed as it is against the flute and piping woodwinds. Pungent work from brass and tympani before we are through. Big chords – shades of the Great Gate of Kiev – and we find ourselves enchanted by Tchaikovsky’s variations on The Crane, a Malorussian folk song. A march, a waltz, a trepak, the tune does what it wants, with a simplistic little air as a foil for a pantheistic second subject. By the time the gong sounds and the tune whistles its way to triumphant glory, we have been treated to a thoroughly convincing round of nationalistic Tchaikovsky of the first order.
— Gary Lemco