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Victor Carr Jr, June 2009

…Andrew Mogrelia has some good ideas in the more propulsive passages, but outside of those he quite often plods along at “safe” tempos that sound more suited for dancers than listeners. Ondrej Lenárd is more successful at keeping things moving in the Nutcracker, and he especially makes the thrice-familiar numbers sound appropriately light and colorful.

As for Swan Lake, Naxos chose its later (2001) recording by Dmitry Yablonsky and the Russian State Symphony, which features superior playing and a darker, more intense rendition than its earlier (but very good) version by Adrian Leaper and the Czecho-Slovak Radio Symphony. The Czech recordings offer an open, spacious sound that’s a little lacking in bass, while the Russian production is closer and more detailed. It’s a nice package overall, and easily would have garnered a more enthusiastic recommendation (especially as the Nutcracker includes Glazunov’s Chopiniana as a bonus) if not for RCA’s competitively-priced Slatkin boxed set, which features superlative playing by the St. Louis Symphony. What’s more, Slatkin’s judicious editing (excising a good number of the numerous dacapo repeats) makes Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty more palatable for home listening. This is first choice…the Naxos box makes for an attractive…version.

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