“Russian Nights” – Cincinnati Pops Orchestra/Erich Kunzel – Telarc

by | Feb 10, 2007 | SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

“Russian Nights” – Cincinnati Pops Orchestra/Erich Kunzel – Telarc Multichannel SACD-60657, 66:31 ****:

The newest in the long-running and highly successful Kunzel/Cincinnati series on Telarc is the 83rd recording the pops conductor has done for the label.  He’s been doing this for 41 years, so that’s about two album a year. The theme this time is the rich and colorful music of Russia; more basically the very nationalistic works which began to appear after Glinka paved the way with his operas Russlan and Ludmilla and A Life for the Czar. The selections are all listed below.

All 15 pieces will be familiar to most collectors/concert goers.  Among my personal favorites were the very melodic and strongly rhythmic Polovtsian Dances, and the movingly emotional Love Theme from the ballet Spartacus by Khachaturian. The percussion is front and center in typical Telarc style for the Borodin dances. Kunzel draws the last bit of drama from the famous love theme. Comparing Kunzel’s Capriccio Espagnol with the recently-reviewed xrcd reissue by Argenta on the F.I.M. “Espana” album showed the latter to be a more fiery and compelling performance with equally good sound – though closer-miked and only in stereo. (By the way, considering the Kunzel album theme, wouldn’t the Russian Easter Overture have been a more appropriate a choice?)

TrackList: GLINKA: Overture to Russlan and Ludmilla; IPPOLITOV-IVANOV: Procession of the Sardar; PROKOFIEV: March from The Love for Three Oranges; BORODIN: Polovtsian Dances; RIMSKY-KORSAKOV: Capriccio Espagnol; LIADOV: The Enchanted Lake, The Music Box; KHACHATURIAN: Love Theme from Spartacus; TCHAIKOVSKY: Russian Dance from The Nutcracker, Hungarian Dance from Swan Lake; MOUSSORGSKY:  Polonaise from Boris Godunov

 – John Sunier

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