Sonic Grade: C?
A decent Speakers Corner Decca.
The Speakers Corner heavy vinyl reissue of this title is not bad, but like all reissues it lacks the weight found on the originals. I remember it being a little flat and bright. I haven’t played it in years so I could easily be wrong. The glorious sound I hear on the best pressings is not the kind of thing I hear on 180 gram records by Speakers Corner, or anybody else for that matter.
They do a good job some of the time, but none of their records can compete with a vintage pressing when it’s mastered and pressed properly.
The second symphony is a work that audiophiles should love. It shares many qualities with Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade, which you will surely recognize. It also has some lovely passages that remind me of the Tale of The Tsar Saltan, another work by the same composer. If you like exotic and colorfully orchestrated symphonic sound, you will be hard-pressed to find better.
Here, Ansermet and the orchestra he founded and led for a half-century imbue the Borodin Second, and especially the scherzo and andante, with uncommon grace, perhaps drawn from Ansermet’s vast experience as a ballet conductor. In any event, Ansermet and others prove that a careful, reticent, well-played performance need not be boring.”
The Second Symphony proved to be Borodin’s great work. Whatever Borodin’s technical limitations as a composer, they fail to be revealed in this symphony. The power, the playfulness, the lyricism, and the liveliness incorporated into each of the movements make for a compelling gesture.
Renowned musicologist A. Peter Brown