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Russian Dances - Yamada

Russian Dances - Yamada

PentaTone Classics  PTC 5186557

Stereo/Multichannel Hybrid

Classical - Orchestral


Tchaikovsky: Suite from Swan Lake
Glazunov: 2 Concert Waltzes
Shostakovich: The Golden Age
Stravinsky: Circus Polka

Orchestre de la Suisse Romande
Kazuki Yamada (conductor)


This is the third PENTATONE album of a series of three which feature ballet, theatre, and dance music performed by the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande lead by Kazuki Yamada. The first one comprises music by French composers, amongst them the very popular Arlésienne suites by George Bizet. The second features the music of the German-speaking countries inspired by “la fin de siècle”, in the interwar period.

A recording to get carried away with, from the first to the last second, with some of the most enchanting and characteristic dances, composed by some of the greatest Russian composers of the 19th and 20th centuries. Combined on the album are Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake Suite, Op. 20a, Alexander Glazunov’s Concert Waltzes Nos. 1 and 2, Dmitri Shostakovich’ The Golden Age Ballet Suite, Op. 22 and Igor Stravinsky’s Circus Polka, composed for a young elephant.

Recorded at Victoria Hall in Geneva, Switzerland in July 2015, this album is another result of the very fruitful relationship developed between the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande and PENTATONE over the last decade. At this occasion the OSR is conducted by Japanese conductor Kazuki Yamada, who was appointed Principal Guest Conductor of the orchestra in 2012 after a very successful European debut with them in 2010. Kazuki Yamada equally holds the position of Principal Conductor of the Japan Philharmonic Orchestra and Principal Conductor and Artistic Director Designate of the Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte Carlo and he regularly appears as guest conductor with many other leading orchestras, receiving critical acclaim.

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Review by Graham Williams - March 20, 2016

'Russian Dances' is the third and final release in a PENTATONE series devoted to compositions closely or loosely related to the dance and performed by the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande directed by their principal guest conductor the charismatic Kazuki Yamada.

Here the program takes us on a chronological journey from 19th century Russia, courtesy of Tchaikovsky and Glazunov, to the 20th-century represented by Shostakovich and Stravinsky.

Kazuki Yamada's account of the ever popular suite from 'Swan Lake' is beautifully paced at danceable tempi and the OSR respond to his direction throughout with playing of polish and refinement – the exquisitely phrased oboe solo at the opening being just one example of many. There are noteworthy contributions in the Act II 'Scène-Andante' (track 4) from Notburga Puskas, harp, François Guye, cello and the orchestra's concert master Bogdan Zvoristeanu . One minor blemish is that the latter's rather effortful breathing has been captured by the microphones. It is worth mentioning that, unlike some conductors, Yamada uses the eight-movement version of the suite, so both the delicious Danse éspagnole and Danse napolitaine are included, the latter featuring a splendidly agile cornett solo from Olivier Bombrun.

The Tchaikovsky ballet suite is followed by genial performances of the two concert waltzes of Alexander Glazunov written in the 1890s as precursors to the composition of his celebrated ballets 'The Seasons' and 'Raymonda', and though often appearing either singly or together on disc remain rarities in the concert hall. Yamada's performances have an appealing air of insouciance and a lightness of touch reflected in the immaculate orchestral playing.

The four-movement suite from Shostakovich's ballet of Soviet realism 'Zolotoy vek' (The Golden Age) is performed with all the wit and zest essential for the 'Polka' and 'Dance', but Yamada also finds surprising emotional depth in the second movement 'Adagio'. Finally we have Stravinsky's galumphing Circus Polka to end this entertaining programme in rumbustious style.

PENTATONE's superb 5.0-channel DSD recording, expertly engineered by Polyhymnia's Erdo Groot, has a wonderfully coherent sound stage full of detail and with a glowing ambience that brings the fine acoustic of the Victoria Hall Geneva to vibrant life.

While much of the repertoire on offer here is available in countless alternative recordings, Yamada's persuasive accounts of these evergreen pieces delivered in gloriously opulent sound are irresistible.

Copyright © 2016 Graham Williams and HRAudio.net

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