The Great Classics series from Naxos is the perfect introduction to myriad genres of classical music. Comprising both complete and compiled selections from the greatest works in the repertoire, the boxes are bursting with wonderful pieces of music, both recognizable and unfamiliar. The boxes take the listener on a thrilling tour of some of the worlds most dramatic musical media, encompassing music from six centuries and featuring sensational performers.
Borodin’s First Symphony isn’t especially interesting, but his Second is a masterpiece, tightly constructed, brilliantly orchestrated, and tunefully delightful. It’s really the only work of its period to rank with the symphonies of Tchaikovsky (along with, possibly, Balakirev’s First), and Tjeknavorian’s performance of it, indeed of all three works, is outstanding. He doesn’t fuss with or manipulate tempos or textures, preferring instead to keep the music moving energetically and allowing the musicians of the National Philharmonic to inject as much color and vitality as possible. The scherzo flashes by like lightning, the slow movement is aptly seductive, and the finale dazzles. As I suggested, the other two works are less obviously successful, but the performances are no less adept. Produced by Charles Gerhardt, we can expect fine sonics, and that’s just what RCA delivers. In this music, you won’t find better.
A true celebration, ushering in the New Year with one of the finest orchestras and greatest conductors in the world. The 2007 Gala from Berlin features the Berliner Philharmoniker and Sir Simon Rattle in Alexander Borodin's Second Symphony, a richly lyrical work of immense poetic grandeur and fairy-tale magic, in a programme that also includes one of the greatest classical hits ever: Modest Mussorgsky's 'Pictures at an Exhibition'.
Valery Gergiev directs the Kirov Opera and Ballet in this magnificent 1998 production of Borodin’s "Prince Igor", presented in a new Mariinsky Theatre performing edition and featuring Mikhail Fokine’s original choreography in the famous Polovtsian Dances. Its four acts tell of the struggle between the Russians and Polovtsian nomads, of Prince Igor’s capture and escape from his noble opponent, Khan Konchak, and of love between Igor’s son, Vladimir, and Konchak’s daughter, Konchakovna.
Premiered by the Opera De Paris in 1870, and inspired by the fantastical writings of E.T.A. Hoffmann, Coppélia tells the story of a young man who becomes besotted with an exquisite automaton and is finally brought to his senses by his fiancée. In their production from the magnificent Palais Garnier, choreographer Patrice Bart in his final production and designer Ezio Toffolutti explore the story's darker side while doing full justice to the exuberance and elegance of Delibes’ glorious score.