Russian Orchestral Works
When it comes to assessing the sound of a record, first impressions are often most reliable, for we all know how easily the ear adapts itself and you soon begin to accept sound that at first strikes you as unattractive. I cannot compare this CD with its LP source for the latter has not been submitted for review; but I cannot think that it is much of an improvement. When CD first appeared, reviewers regularly mentioned as one of its great virtues the feeling of a veil between them and the music being drawn aside. I do not at all get that impression here. Soft passages have all the CD qualities but tuttis (the very opening of Ruslan and Ludmilla, for example) have that quality we sometimes used to find on LPs, a certain opaqueness that is unnatural to a live orchestra. The performances themselves however are good and lively accounts of what is unblushingly a very popular programme.
In our June issue (page 4), Gilles David wrote from Paris complaining that companies are regularly issuing CDs which have precisely the same amount of music on them as their counterpart LPs. Yet CDs are advertised as capable of running for an hour. 'Short changing' does not seem blatant when the music is one great work (for example the Emperor Concerto reviewed on page 765) even though the approximate 20 minutes left blank leaves plenty of room for, say, a Beethoven overture; but this disc of bits and pieces that would go down well on a Saturday night at London's Royal Albert Hall is not good enough, least of all when the cost is nearly £17. The music here only amounts to 40'27''.'