Review By Brian Wilson,MusicWeb International,March 2011
My first thought was to wonder if this new recording could match or even excel Naxos’s incumbent version (Philharmonia/Bátiz, also with the Tsar Saltan Suite, 8.550726)—and then if it could do the same to the classic Beecham and Reiner recordings, on EMI 5669832, with Borodin Polovtsian Dances, and RCA 88697700362, with Stravinsky Rossignol, respectively. The answer is yes to the former, but the jury is still out for me on the second count: I never wish to be without either or both of those recordings, elderly though they now are. I do think, however, that Monteux’s recording—no longer available, in any case—is now too dated, for all that I have enjoyed
The new version is a full-blooded performance in full-bodied sound; though it doesn’t neglect the more tender moments, it does stress the drama, whereas Beecham captures both the dramatic and emotive aspects of the music slightly more even-handedly. The Tsar Saltan Suite and the Flight of the Bumblebee make excellent fillers.
The Naxos has a price advantage over Beecham and Reiner, both on CD and as a download—in fact, I couldn’t find the Reiner currently on offer as a download and the Beecham seems to have disappeared from Passionato, though it’s available for £5.99 in mp3 from HMV Digital.