Borodin’s First Symphony was one of his earliest large-scale works and shows a great increase of technical skill over anything he had done before. Of course, it was a brave decision on Borodin’s part to undertake a symphony when he had little experience of large-scale form and none of orchestration. The influence of Schumann is rather apparent, although the example of Berlioz is more heeded in the imaginative and manyhued orchestration.
The Second Symphony is one of Borodin’s masterpieces, finding the composer at the height of his capabilities. Given its strong musical ties with Prince Igor, outlined in Max Harrison’s booklet note, the filler on this CD – the ‘Polovtsian Dances’ from Prince Igor is particularly apt. What’s more, it’s the first international release of the Ashkenazy recording made in 1983 and coupled on the original LP with Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition.
Symphony No. 1 in E flat major
Symphony No. 2 in B minor
Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra
Polovtsian Dances from ‘Prince Igor’*
London Opera Chorus
*FIRST INTERNATIONAL RELEASE ON CD
Recording Producers: Anna Barry (Symphonies Nos. 1 & 2); Andrew Cornall (Polovtsian Dances)
Balance Engineer: Erdo Groot (Symphonies Nos. 1 & 2)
Recording Engineers: Stan Taal, Erwin de Ceuster (Symphonies Nos. 1 & 2); John Dunkerley (Polovtsian Dances)
Tape Editors: Jan Wesselink, Kees de Visser (Symphonies Nos. 1 & 2)
Recording Locations: Rotterdam, Netherlands, October 1989 (Symphonies Nos. 1 & 2); Kingsway Hall, London, UK, 10 February 1983 (Polovtsian Dances)
‘the Rotterdam orchestra is afforded a richness and sonority, plus an overall bloom on strings, winds and brass alike, which is most appealing’ (Gergiev) Gramophone, August 1991
‘excellently recorded … Borodin’s Polovtsian Dances are vividly done’ (Ashkenazy) Gramophone, November 1983