“Romantic Russia” – Works of GLINKA, MUSSORGSKY & BOROIN – London Sym. Orch. & Chorus/George Solti – F.I.M.

by | Aug 5, 2009 | Classical Reissue Reviews | 0 comments

“Romantic Russia” – GLINKA: Russlan and Ludmilla Overture; MUSSORGSKY: Khovanshina Prelude; Night on Bare Mountain; BORODIN: Prince Igor: Overture & Polovtsian Dances – London Symphony Orchestra and Chorus/Georg Solti – Decca/First Impression Music K2HD reissue LIM K2HD 043, 46:24 *****:

One of the latest in FIM’s K2HD series of enhanced CDs that play on standard CD decks honors one of the great conductors of the 20th century, Sir Georg Solti.  The master was recorded in London The program is a collection of shorter very descriptive orchestral showpieces with a strong Russian slant, with the final selection of the Polovtsian Dances bringing in the London Symphony Chorus under chorus master John Alldis. I would say this one of the most exciting versions of the exotic Polovtsian Dances on disc – many versions fail to include the chorus.

Night on Bare Mountain
– sometimes dubbed Night on Bald Mt. – is a familiar orchestral fantasy which Mussorgsky worked on repeatedly and which was whipped into orchestral shape later by Rimsky-Korsakov. It depicts a Black Mass and witches’ celebration at a mountain, and many will remember its devilish animated imagery from seeing it included in Disney’s 1939 Fantasia. I have quite a few original Decca vinyls as well as some reissues from Speakers Corner, but they are mostly Ansermets and not Solti performances to compare. I did have the classic RCA audiophile vinyl demo LP “Witches Brew” however, which includes Night on Bare Mountain with Alexander Gibson conducting the New Symphony Orchestra of London.  Overall I found the Gibson performance just a bit more devilish, the imagined scent of brimstone just a bit stronger.  However, the FIM reissue has much richer and more extended bass end and very nearly the exemplary transparency of the vinyl.  The dynamic range of the two seemed about the same.

This is one of those high-end situations where you can’t just go by the specs.  Yes, this is a standard 44.1K/16-bit CD in spite of the super-hi-res mastering, and it shouldn’t sound about as good as many 96K or 192K DVDs or SACDs.  But it does.

 – John Sunier

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