Rarer Russian


If your record collection is anything like mine, you've got at least six recordings of Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 6 "Pathetique," an almost equal number of his Fifth and Fourth Symphonies, and, if you happen to own a set of the complete six, one of each of the rest. Well, it's Telarc to the rescue with the release Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 2 "Little Russian"/Rimsky-Korsakov: Symphony No. 2 "Antar."

Way back in 1986, long before digital bits had inherited the earth, the company engaged the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra under Lorin Maazel to record two infrequently encountered works: Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 2, Op. 17 "Little Russian" and Rimsky-Korsakov's even rarer Symphony No. 2 in C minor, Op. 9 "Antar."

Pairing the two on a single disc was especially welcome, because it affords us the opportunity to gauge how the craft of these two great Russian composers developed over the course of their lifetimes. With only nine versions of "Antar" in the US catalog, the fine sound and thrilling expanse of Maazel's version are especially welcome. The same goes for the "Little Russian," which bubbles over with rousing melodies and atmosphere.

These two symphonies' lively flow are the perfect remedy for the blues. Given their exceptionally rich atmosphere, they're also a much cheaper way to fly.