, February 2010
Russia boasted a lineup of heavy-hitting composers from around 1850 to 1950. Mikhail Glinka built the foundation, and the country kept reloading original voices with each passing decade: Tchaikovsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, Rachmaninoff, Stravinsky, Prokofiev, and the last great Russian composer, Shostakovich.
Somewhere in the middle, and lost in the shuffle, was Vasily Kalinnikov (1866–1901). Born in the Oryol District, his indisputable gifts were tragically cut short by debilitating bouts of tuberculosis shy of his 35th birthday. He produced a scant but fetching catalog of orchestral music, with his two symphonies as the centerpiece…Two recordings are worth considering of these symphonies. The Naxos offering with label veteran Theodore Kuchar leading the National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine is a solid performance at a bargain price. But the Scottish National Orchestra recording, part of the first-rate series of Russian music conducted by the man with a bottomless repertoire, Neeme Jarvi, reigns supreme…