A splendid audiophile showpiece and a lot of fun besides. Not for nothing is Rimsky-Korsakov known as the Russian colorist par excellence, and these compositions – none of which has been over-recorded except for the Capriccio espagnol – demonstrate this quality of his to perfection.
The opening movement of the five-movement Legend is deeply indebted to Berlioz; no wonder since Rimsky’s important Principles of Orchestration was heavily influenced by the French composer’s similar Treatise. The Neapolitan Songs, a three-minute arrangement of Funiculi, funicula, makes a great party piece. The familiar Capriccio is given a reading intoxicated with vivid splashes of instrumental color and virtuosity. The clarinettist in particular savors each note, each a wild flight of stratospheric fantasy. And throughout, Sinaisky conducts with a combination of savage fury and elegant command that never allows even one bar to become routine.
If you like this CD, note that Sinaisky has made several recordings with the BBC Philharmonic for Chandos, including works by Szymanowski, Rodion Shchedrin, Balakirev and Franz Schreker and a series of recordings of Shostakovich’s film music. Future recording plans for Sinaisky include a set of the complete symphonies of Franz Schmidt for Naxos with the Malmö Symphony Orchestra.
The sound, recorded in New Broadcasting House in Manchester, is rich, powerful and as aggressive or seductive as it needs to be. There is a hint of SACD warmth to make it a perfect demonstration CD for big and powerful systems with ambitions.
– Laurence Vittes