Even with 15 other versions of Rimsky's masterpiece of orchestral virtuosity to choose from — some in the top flight — this was recognized from the first as one of the most rewarding, thanks largely to Krebbers's exceptionally sweet, gently appealing and bewitching personification of the story - spinning Scheherazade and to Kondrashin's skill in pacing and shaping movements as a whole, relating the diverse tempos and building up tension and dynamics by careful control so as to create climaxes of thrilling intensity and power. the 'shipwreck' finale, in particular, was overwhelming; and this was achieved without resorting to the ultra - fast tempos adopted by some conductors to whip up excitement. The Concertgebouw's crisp, sonorous and sensitive playing (full marks both to the splendid strings and to the wind soloists) was caught with the utmost fidelity; but the Compact Disc's total exclusion even of minimal extraneous background now marks a still further improvement, as can be judged by the dead silence against which Scheherazade's pleadings are heard. The final coda is ravishingly beautiful.
I'm a bit taken aback that Haenssler should label excellent stereo from 1981 as a historical recording. Kondrashin died that year at the age of 67 - the day after his birthday, as it happens. His Mahler recordings took place with his own Moscow Phil., but the present orchestra of Southwest Radio in Baden-Baden and Freiburg was under Michael Gielen, an experienced and exciting Mahler conductor in his own right, so the chemistry must have been good - better, I suspect, than with any Soviet orchestra at the time. Mahler wasn't a regular part of the orchestral tradition there.
The last recording of Kirill Kondrashin. It was made in the very day of his death. He was invited to replace Klauss Tennstedt, who had refused to conduct in Amsterdam. After only a half-hour rehersal Kondrashin managed to pass his own specific view of the score to the orchestra and the concert had a great success.
Philips 50 is a unique collection of classic recordings celebrating many of the finest performances from one of the world's great music catalogues.
Philips Classics' distinguished legacy stretches from the early 1950s to the present day and features many of the finest artists of our time. This new series captures their inspired musicianship and incomparable artistry with greater fidelity than ever before. The famous Philips sound has been further enhanced by the use of the latest 96kHz, 24-bit technology to enable new generations to appreciate once more these critically acclaimed, award-winning recordings.
Philips 50 — a wonderful harvest from 50 years of recording.
Even if you hate Liszt, hate concertos, hate pianos, hate Russians, hate music in general, you should own and treasure (or punish yourself regularly) with this recording. –David Hurwitz
Nielsen's Fifth is a superb performance, not only by the glittering and oscillating sound of this prodigious ensample, but the febrile approach given by Kondrashin. This performance was dated in 1981 and we may really realize with admirable clarity the color, phrasing and display of virtuosistic elegance of this majestic Orchestra, in these live recordings.