Borodin’s First Symphony was one of his earliest large-scale works and shows a great increase of technical skill over anything he had done before. Of course, it was a brave decision on Borodin’s part to undertake a symphony when he had little experience of large-scale form and none of orchestration. The influence of Schumann is rather apparent, although the example of Berlioz is more heeded in the imaginative and manyhued orchestration.
The Second Symphony is one of Borodin’s masterpieces, finding the composer at the height of his capabilities. Given its strong musical ties with Prince Igor, outlined in Max Harrison’s booklet note, the filler on this CD – the ‘Polovtsian Dances’ from Prince Igor is particularly apt. What’s more, it’s the first international release of the Ashkenazy recording made in 1983 and coupled on the original LP with Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition.
“The Rotterdam orchestra is afforded a richness and sonority, plus an overall bloom on strings, winds and brass alike, which is most appealing” Gramophone (Gergiev)
“excellently recorded … Borodin’s Polovtsian Dances are vividly done” Gramophone (Ashkenazy)