As the title says, the 10-CD set 'Masquerade' celebrates the "Carnival in Classical Music". It is a subject that has inspired musicians throughout the ages ranging from Mozart to Khatchaturian. Alongside these two composers, this tremendous anthology includes works by Mozart, Fauré, Dvorák, Schumann, Satie, Svendsen, Prokofiev, Richard Strauss, Johann Strauss II, Mendelssohn, Saint-Saëns, Debussy, Berlioz, Verdi, Leoncavallo, Raymond, Liszt, Nielsen and Leonard Bernstein.
RCA put a major push behind Armenian conductor Loris Tjeknavorian in the 1970s and '80s, and this two-disc set, Khachaturian: Gayne (Complete Ballet), restores to the active catalog a highly desirable recording at a price that is entirely reasonable. When it first appeared in 1976, Tjeknavorian's Gayne (Gayane), made with the National Symphony Orchestra, was a mite controversial in that it was marketed as "complete"; Khachaturian fanatics had long sought a complete Gayne, as the suites Khachaturian had prepared from the ballet were common on recordings, but not the work as a whole.
Another of John Barry's smouldering, moody thriller scores (Body Heat etc.), the kind of thing he does with a good deal of charm and edgy romanticism. Naturally for his legion of admirers this will be a most welcome treat, although to be entirely frank it is not one of his most distinctive soundtracks. While it hits all of the expected marks with the required poise and professionalism it also lacks freshness and at times sounds a little too much like recycled material (which with this composer admittedly always remains polished and likeable). Given these general musings and vague criticisms we are still left with a valuable addition to the wealth of John Barry work now available, something that is to be appreciated and I am certainly not complaining. (MWI)
The St Petersburg State Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1967 by Nikolai Rabinovich, Karl Eliasberg and Edward Grikurov and until 1985 was known as the Orchestra of Ancient and Modern Music. Renowned soloists and conductors, including Yuri Temirkanov, Mariss Jansons, Svyatoslav Richter, and many others, have performed with the orchestra. In 1985 the orchestra was enlarged, developing as the Leningrad State Orchestra under Ravil Martynov and undertaking concert tours of China, Japan, Germany, Austria, Mexico, Spain, Finland, Norway, Sweden, France and Belgium. From 2004 until 2007 the orchestra was headed by Martynov’s pupil Vasily Petrenko. The orchestra’s artistic director and chief conductor from 2007 to 2013 was Alexander Titov, who has recorded significant Russian compositions from the period of the Second World War.