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Alex Hoffman
suite101®.com, 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…

American Record Guide, January 2009

Kuchar brings out the rich brass writing to splendid affect…Kucher’s performances are among the best I’ve heard…a splendid introduction to Kalinnikov

Soundscapes, January 2009

Kuchar’s unnerring sense of flow and his affection for these scores is patently obvious, and as many would want these works paired, it makes sense to go for this version rather than pay six times the price for the two Chandos CDs. Performance-wise too, the Naxos is a first choice

Fanfare, June 1995

Those wanting only Kalinnikov’s two symphonies need look no further; the pairing, as well as Naxos’s budget price, is ideal. Recommended.

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