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A disappointing performance and recording
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Even great orchestras, conductors and recording companies must have "off-days." This recording is certainly one of them. The Chicago Symphony Orchestra makes a thoroughly unconvincing intepretation of the ususually uplifting Scheherazade. Erato distinguishes itself in probing the limits of how inaudible a recording can be.Among other great and even average recordings of Scheherazade one cannot believe that one is listening to the great Chicago Symphony Orchestra under Daniel Barenboim. All movements are uninspiring and the third is down right lethargic. Once you hear the third movement you will think that you need to go for a hearing aid test, so inaudible is the recording.During the same period, Erato/CSO/Barenboim made other great recordings, such as the Brahms and Tchaikovsky Symphonies. I do not know what happened here, but the result is not satisfying. The only saving grace of this disc is that it offers one of the few available recordings of the Tsar Sultan Suite. Buy this disc only if you need Tsar Sultan for your collection, not for the Scheherazade. If you buy it for Scheherazade, pull out your headphones, you'll need them. There are far better Scheherazade recordings at mid-price and at the bargain level."
This is depressing stuff.
JPH | Crawley | 08/25/2003
(1 out of 5 stars)
"I am constantly amazed by the number of friends and apologists Barenboim has within the world of professional and amateur music critics. This is not a superlative performance of Scheherazade in any way whatsoever, and it is not helped by the poor sound --- which the Erato engineers has uniformly wheeled out for all of Barenboim's CSO series. Murky, recessed, echo-ey --- even the ancient Beecham recording surpasses this Erato disc for vividness and immediacy. Once you compare this weak performance alongside rivals like Mackerras', Kondrashin's, Beecham's, Karajan's, Haitink's, even Previn's, its severe shortcomings become embarassingly apparent."
Barenboim's View of Rimsky-Korsakov
John Kwok | New York, NY USA | 04/25/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"While this isn't a definitive recording of Rimsky-Korsakov's "Scheherazade", it is still worth listening. Admittedly, Barenboim's conducting is lethargic, especially during the opening measures. Yet I suspect he is doing this to pull the audience gradually into the magical, mystical realm of Scheherazade's One Thousand and One Arabian Nights. His tempi are slower than those I've heard from others, most notably Previn and Ozawa. Samuel Magad, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's concertmaster, gives a passionate, lyrical reading of the violin solo that is almost worth the price of the CD. The Chicago Symphony Orchestra's plays with ample warmth and brilliance in "Scheherazade" and the rarely heard "Tsar Sultan". Teldec's engineers have done a fine job with sound quality, though admittedly it falls short of the technical achievement they wrought with Barenboim's recently released Berlin Staatskapelle Beethoven symphony cycle. If you're interested in hearing a unique perspective on Rimsky-Korsakov's "Scheherazade", then buy this CD."