The Symphony No. 2 by the much neglected Russian composer Mili Balakirev is but one of the rare treasures in the ALTO release ALC1429 of the music of the least prolific yet most influential of the Russian Romantics who integrated and led the group that came to be known as the Mighty Five.

The late Evgeny Svetlanov conducts the USSR Symphony Orchestra with utmost flair and an intense feel for Balakirev’s quintessentially Russian music, which his forces replicate with brilliant playing.

The Symphony’s Second movement, titled Scherzo alla Cosacca by its composer and the tempo di Polacca finale leave no doubt as to where Balakirev found the inspiration for his splendidly orchestrated, unabashedly melodic, folk-inspired compositions.        

The nicely engineered compact disc includes the Overture on Three Russian Songs, a Suite in D Minor on Pieces by Chopin, and the tone poem In Bohemia.

In the Russian label Northern Flowers’s release Nostalgic Russia for Violin & Piano Japanese violinist Hideko Udagawa amply demonstrates her affinity for the music of Tchaikovsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, Rachmaninoff, Arensky and other Russian Romantics.

Her program ranges from the familiar Fritz Kreisler’s transcription of the Hymn to the Sun from Rimsky-Korsakov’s opera The Golden Cockerel and Tchaikovsky’s Valse sentimentale to off-the-beaten-path selections by Kabalevsky, Arensky, and other post-Romantic 20th century composers.

Encompassing Scriabin’s haunting Nocturne Op.5 No.1 and a superb reading of five pieces from Shostakovich’s Preludes for piano Op.34 transcribed for her instrument by the artist, Udegawa’s recital satisfies with the artist’s elegant musicality and inventive programming.

Rafael de Acha All About the Arts