Steven J. Haller
American Record Guide
, May 2012
Certainly Andrew Davis delivers a rugged and splashy account of the First Symphony everywhere…Davis lopes along good-naturedly in the opening movement and isn’t afraid to linger affectionately where called for; he obtains enthusiastic playing from the Toronto musicians, including the robust low brass…The infectious Scherzo is fielded nimbly by the expert string players, with manifold decorative touches by the winds; and Davis is clearly caught up in the heartfelt yearning of the Andante…A terse and invigorating finale builds to an emotionally satisfying display by the brass to close out a highly enjoyable reading of Borodin’s unjustly neglected first effort.
In the glorious and thoroughly Russian Bminor Symphony…there is everywhere a sense of Old Mother Russia entirely absent from most other performances. The Andante may well be Borodin’s most memorable melody (with all due respect to ‘Stranger in Paradise’) and the Toronto horn player does an admirable job; clearly Davis feels this music deeply and guides his men through a noble and impassioned climax, lingering at the close before plunging head first into the brash and explosive finale. If you prefer an impetuous opening sally, you’ll find Davis’s performance well worth investigating.
Davis’s rugged and richly colored sampling leaves one wanting more; though I’m not sure what language the chorus is singing…Finally, Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic amble amiably across the Steppes of Central Asia to complete the evening’s entertainment.
If you want a good deal on the Borodin symphonies, Schwarz on Naxos is still the way to go; but if you don’t mind spending a few bucks more, this Newton reissue that gives you music from Prince Igor as well is definitely worth looking into. © 2012 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide online