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Scheherazade; Russian Easter Overture.

Rimsky-Korsakov: Scheherazade; Russian Easter Overture. Robert Spano, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. Telarc CD-80568.

Robert Spano makes a splashy debut recording as new Musical Director of the Atlanta Symphony with Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade and Russian Easter Overture. Aided by Telarc's wide-ranging sonics, the showpiece produces a good adrenaline rush before it's finished, and even if Telarc already have a fine Scheherazade with Sir Charles Mackerras in their stables, this latest one needs to be reckoned with.

I must admit, however, that beyond my initial enthusiasm for the Telarc sound, I found Spanos less than compelling in the first three movements. The interpretation seemed routine compared to the lyric, fairy-tale magic of Beecham (EMI) and Haitink (Philips) or the excitement and tension of Reiner (RCA) and Kondrashin (Philips). Then came the big fourth-movement finale, where Spano cranks up the engines and goes for nonstop thrills at all cost. The drum rolls in the closing moments of the "Shipwreck" will vibrate the pit of your stomach, as well as anything else that is isn't nailed down in your living room. Likewise, his performance of the Russian Easter Overture gets off to a rather ordinary start before building up an exhilarating head of steam.

Telarc's sound, produced in Direct Stream Digital (DSD) and Super Bit Mapping (SBM), is as clean, dynamic, and well-balanced as you could desire. It hasn't quite the transparency of the old Beecham recording, but playing it alongside anything else makes you wonder what happened to the bass in the comparison discs. Yes, that famous Telarc bass and bass drum are in ample evidence throughout both performances, and they are guaranteed to make an impression on family and friends. No doubt most folks already own a favorite copy of Scheherazade, but it may not sound as good as this one or develop the same degree of fervor. Now, if only Spano had generated a corresponding magnitude of poetry, this entry in a competitive field might have gone to the head of the class.
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Author:Puccio, John
Publication:Sensible Sound
Article Type:Sound Recording Review
Date:Nov 1, 2001
Words:330
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