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Penguin Guide, January 2009

The Fifth Symphony is a sunny, pastoral score dating from 1918, very much in the tradition of Glazunov and Glière. Downes’s recording with the BBC Philharmonic, recorded in an admittedly over-resonant venue in Derby, is to be preferred both artistically and sonically to its earlier rival by the USSR Symphony Orchestra under Ivanov on Olympia (now deleted). The Ninth Symphony is somewhat better served than No. 5 so far as the sound is concerned. It is vintage Miaskovsky, more cogently argued and more interesting in thematic substance than the Eighth. Very good performances and good enough recording—just—to make three stars.

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