Rimsky-Korsakov Shines

The Seattle Symphony Orchestra adds extra sheen to Rimsky-Korsakov's colourful music.

Composer: Rimsky-Korsakov

Repertoire: Capriccio Espagnol; Overtures 

Artist: Seattle Symphony Orchestra/Gerard Schwarz
Rating: 5/5

Genre: Orchestral

Label: Naxos 8.572788

The Music: Outside Russia, Rimsky-Korsakov’s music is little known beyond the exotic oriental world of his orchestral suite Scheherazade. The good news is that there’s plenty more where this came from. Many of Rimsky’s opera overtures explore the same colourful territory – and so does his Spanish-inspired Capriccio Espagnol. 

The Performance: Rimsky’s orchestral music is so deftly written that in the hands of today’s top-flight professionals it almost plays itself. But the Seattle Symphony Orchestra's performances for Gerard Schwarz don’t just sparkle, as you would expect at this kind of supercharged American technical level. Their brilliant response is also strongly characterised at every point: Capriccio Espagnol here has a dark and spicy pungency that makes it something more than just a pretty Spanish postcard. While the three opera overtures (May Night, The Tsar’s Bride and The Maid of Pskov) all give pleasure, the musical quality of the Overture on Russian Themes and Russian Easter Festival is even higher.

The Verdict: It’s genuinely difficult to imagine better performances. this is a delicious orchestral feast.

Want More? If you don’t yet know the delights of Scheherazade, try the same team’s Naxos recording (8.572693). If you do, there’s Rimsky’s Christmas Eve suite, played by the Moscow Philharmonic (Naxos 8.553789).