GLIÈRE: Symphony No. 3 in B Minor "Ilya Murometz"
Philadelphia Orch/Eugene Ormandy, cond. (mono) (ADD) TT: 54:31

GLIÈRE: Symphony No. 3 in B Minor "Ilya Murometz"
Moscow Radio & Television Large Symphony Orch/Nathan Rakhlin, cond. (stereo) (ADD) TT: 75:25


Those who have read our Feature on Glière's masterpiece know of the importance of both of the recordings of Ilya Murometz listed above. Now we have them in magnificent transfers—and at modest price. Ormandy's recording was made November 26, 1956, just pre-stereo, but this is an example of Columbia's robust, rich-textured orchestral recording of the time. Ormandy loved this work, performed it occasionally when he was guest conductor of other orchestras, and made a second recording with the Philadelphia Orchestra October 6, 1971 for RCA. While both of his recordings of Ilya are superlative performances, both are cut considerably (although not as drastically as Stokowski's Houston version). The RCA, although stereo, was not transferred to LP effectively. Fortunately, again thanks to an enterprising private label, we have this on CD in a transfer from an open-reel tape, which is a revelation in sound improvement. This was reviewed July 2002.

Now we have Ormandy's first recording, a most wecome addition to the Ilya discography—but more importantly we now have the stunning, authentically Russian-sounding recording made in 1974 with a huge orchestra ("The Large Symphony Orchestra of Moscow Radio and Television") conducted by the imaginative Nathan Rakhlin. For more comments on his interpretation, refer to our Feature on the work. As mentioned in that article, the CD transfer on Russian Disk (15 025), was a disaster, with undefined bass and limited high frequencies. Now, in this new transfer from a mint copy of the Columbia/Melodiya 2-LP set, everything is there with sizzling high frequencies and solid bass—and it is a magnificent listening experience for those who enjoy this massive symphony. Both of these are private issues only that are currently unavailable—there is a possibility they might be reissued during 2008 on another label—we can hope!


R.E.B. (June 2003)