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Discussion: Rimsky-Korsakov: Scheherazade, Borodin, Balakirev - Gergiev

Posts: 33
Page: 1 2 3 4 next

Post by Dinko December 7, 2003 (1 of 33)
Interesting to see how opposite the views on this one are.

I have no idea how the SACD sounds like because the CD didn't sound too good (very detailed, but full of reverb, and not too bright at the top - I guess you could call it 'warmth' but it just sounds like a bad recording venue to me) so I never bothered getting the SACD.

On the performance side, I have yet to hear anything interesting by Gergiev (probably the most overrated conductor, IMHO, and he managed to screw up Ruslan & Ludmila by taking some parts so fast, neither orchestra nor singers could keep up). Other than the first two minutes of the first movement and most of the last movement, this Scheherazade isn't one I'd even consider taking to a desert island with me given the available competition

In any case, it's interesting to note the radical divergence of opinions.

Post by mdt December 16, 2003 (2 of 33)
Dinko said:

Interesting to see how opposite the views on this one are.

I have no idea how the SACD sounds like because the CD didn't sound too good (very detailed, but full of reverb, and not too bright at the top - I guess you could call it 'warmth' but it just sounds like a bad recording venue to me) so I never bothered getting the SACD.

On the performance side, I have yet to hear anything interesting by Gergiev (probably the most overrated conductor, IMHO, and he managed to screw up Ruslan & Ludmila by taking some parts so fast, neither orchestra nor singers could keep up). Other than the first two minutes of the first movement and most of the last movement, this Scheherazade isn't one I'd even consider taking to a desert island with me given the available competition

In any case, it's interesting to note the radical divergence of opinions.

Sorry, i would have liked to comment on this recording but i fell asleep shortly after the beginning.(not because of the sacd-sound, which is ok but a little bit "thick")

Post by nucaleena December 16, 2003 (3 of 33)
mdt said:

Sorry, i would have liked to comment on this recording but i fell asleep shortly after the beginning.(not because of the sacd-sound, which is ok but a little bit "thick")

am hoping that Telarc will release their DSD recording of Scheherezade (issues only as a redbook, so far). Although the performance was only (4 star) very good, and the violin a little thin-toned in places (on the redbook) i had a feeling that surround SACD would really bring it out and warm it up. The orchestral sound was fabulous, - handled everything that Rimsky threw at it with absolute ease.

Post by peteyspambucket December 31, 2003 (4 of 33)
Gergiev is massively over-rated. And yet, his CDs and SACDs just keep coming out. Do any people listen with their ears or musicality anymore? I shudder to think what his Symphonie Fantastique on SACD will sound like when it's released next month. I am definitely going to let everyone else buy it because I won't spend another dime on his recordings until I hear universally raving reviews.

This Scheherazade in particular is not only unlistenable, but it's downright unpleasant and insulting. I really get offended when I listen to this recording, which is completely lacking in dynamics, sentiment, and emotion. It fails acoustically and performance wise. It makes me think, "Who is this recording for? Who would this recording make happy?" There's utterly no appeal. Even the cover art is ugly.

What makes me a little more upset is that this is the only version of this piece on SACD (that I know of). And yet, this recording does not do SACD technology or the piece any justice. With all the money that is spent in back offices deciding which version of Scheherazade to release and market on SACD, someone at DECCA thought THIS recording was the one to release from their vast historic catalog? I know there are lots of reasons involved that made this the "one", but I feel insulted that no one even listened to this disk for quality in sound or performance. (The other similarly mindless decision in this vein was to put the Boulez Mahler cycle on SACD instead of Abbado's or Bernstein's.)

Obviously there are merits to this recording, such as the ability of the musicians to play this brilliant music together and in tune. But if we're going to get to such a low common denominator, let's record my local high school or university orchestra. This album shoots very low and hits it right on the mark. I know there are others who say they think this is an excellent performance (based on it getting two 5-out-of-5 reviews) but I have to seriously challenge people to really try to hear something exceptional about this performance - ignoring the sound quality.

Finally, I do not enjoy making bad reviews or spending money on albums I detest, like this one. I do feel compelled to give additional notice to the good people here about this performance and about this conductor's output. This has been a bit of a rant and that's why I've put this into the Forums instead of into my Review. Caveat emptor.

PS: I do give positive reviews too. And I love doing them!

Post by diw August 22, 2009 (5 of 33)
I got the Mariinsky SACD this week. Only listened to Symphony #1, but the recording is as wonderful as advertised. I think we should try and get them to record and release a new Gergiev performance of Scherazade, to make up for this prior disaster!

Post by Windsurfer August 22, 2009 (6 of 33)
diw said:

I got the Mariinsky SACD this week. I think we should try and get them to record and release a new Gergiev performance of Scherazade, to make up for this prior disaster!

I'll second that!

Post by diw August 22, 2009 (7 of 33)
We need to find a contact person we can persuade to this idea bring this idea to the label and Gergiev

Post by Windsurfer August 22, 2009 (8 of 33)
diw said:

We need to find a contact person we can persuade to this idea bring this idea to the label and Gergiev

John Newton of Sound Mirror, apparently set the Mariinsky up with their SACD recording suite. The following page has an email link on it:

http://www.soundmirror.com/contact.html

Post by emaidel August 23, 2009 (9 of 33)
peteyspambucket said:

I shudder to think what his Symphonie Fantastique on SACD will sound like when it's released next month.

I have a Phillips CD of the "Symphonie Fantastique" on Philips, conducted by Gergiev which I quite like. On the back of the disc, it says "Also available on SACD 470 632-2," but I haven't been able to find such an SACD anywhere. Is this the one you're talking about?

While I generally like Gergiev, I have to agree with all of the post thus far on this thread regarding his SACD of "Scheherezade." I purchased that recording a few years ago as a CD and thought it sounded just plain horrible, and gave it away. I bought the SACD about a year ago, mistakenly believing that it would sound better, but the excessive, artificial reverberation completely ruins the entire recording. Gergiev's frenetic, or perhaps manic, level of conducting is just all wrong for such a lovely piece of music. It's as if he's trying to set a record for how quickly he can rush through the piece, without any regard to the damage to the music that's done in the process.

The Reiner SACD reissue of the RCA "Living Stereo" recording with Fritz Reiner has received glowing reviews almost everywhere, and is quite good. Despite the very positive reviews these "Living Stereo" SACD's seem to always get, I find those that I've purchased far too bright, and severely lacking in bottom end material. While certainly huge improvements over the 60's LP's, I don't believe those that I have - including the Scheherezade recording - are worthy of their "10/10" ratings they've received on Classics Today.

Post by emaidel August 24, 2009 (10 of 33)
diw said:

I got the Mariinsky SACD this week.

Could you please tell me what SACD you're referring to? I guess I missed something somewhere, because I have no idea what this "Marinsky SACD" is. Thanks.

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