If you like Russian music played in the emotional, aggressive Russian style grab this 2 disc compilation. All compositions are played by the USSR Symphony Orchestra under Svetlanov, but they were recorded over a 30 year period. If you don't know Svetlanov, he was known for sometimes pushing Russian music to the emotional brink, but he could also be tender. For example, his recording of Tchaikovsky's 4th practically blasts you out of the room and it's paired with a very delicate rendering of Symphony for Strings. It's like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
Back to business: The first disc has good performances of chestnuts like Night On Bald Mountain (Mussorgsky), In the Steppes of Central Asia & the Polovtsian Dances (Borodin), and Russian Easter Festival (Rimski-Korsakov). I have read elsewhere that these three composers were friends who helped one another polish their compositions.
The second disc is a treasure chest of very appealing pieces by talented but little known composers who were born about 20 years later. On reading the notes, you learn that each of them had great promise as a major composer, but one died young, another was immobilized by depression, and one simply didn't compose much. As a result all remained obscure despite great talent. Colorful, moving music, which Svetlanov conducts with passio 5 stars without question.
Very good overview of Nina Simone's career with a heavy emphasis on her RCA period which began in 1967, not surprising since the set was released by RCA. Her three years with Phillips, from 1964 through 1966, is considered by many to be the peak of her career and is less well represented. This set includes a short DVD of Simone performing, which I have not watched and three CDs. The complete Phillips recordings are available on a 4-disc set called Four Women, The Nina Simone Philips Recordings. Between the two sets, you certainly have the best of the most distinctive female vocalist of the last 50 years.
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