Classics Today 10/10; Gramophone: outstanding.
In the mind of the general music lover, Rimsky-Korsakov is to a large extent associated with two works: Sheherazade and The Flight of the Bumblebee. It is therefore a great pleasure to be able, in our ongoing series of his orchestral music, to present works less well-known but equally deserving of a wider audience. On the present disc, the ebullient Fantasia on Serbian Themes has a certain following, but the two symphonies are less often played. At it's première, Symphony No. 1 was proclaimed the first Russian symphony, perhaps mainly because it employs a Russian folksong for its lyrical second movement. Composed in 1865, when Rimsky-Korsakov was only 21 years old, it was revised some twenty years later, and it is this second version that we hear on this recording. His third symphony was also his last, leaving him to explore the looser orchestral forms of suites, tone poems and fantasias. But already noticeable is his lavish orchestration, a feature which the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra and Kees Bakels bring out with wonderful panache. Reviews of the two previous volumes (BIS-CD-1377 and 1387) have been full of praise for this wonderful team, and for the recordings themselves: “The brilliance and realism are simply breathtaking, with a full dynamic range, ideal depth and breadth of soundstage, firm bass, open highs, and a panoramic splendor unrivaled on disc.” (Classics Today.com) and "This is a gorgeous recording, highly recommended. The commitment of the performers is just overwhelming.” (Classical MusicWeb)