GLIÈRE:  Symphony No. 3 in B Minor, Op. 42 "Ilya Murometz"
London Symphony Orch/Leon Botstein, cond.
TELARC CD 80609 (F) (DDD) TT:  72:20

Any new recording of Gliere's masterpiece is welcome, and this one has a great deal going for it.  For detailed information about this music and recordings of it, please see the FEATURE on this site. 

This performance, in spite of its 72:20 playing time, is the complete version as announced on the CD cover. Conductor Botstein's tempi are brisk most of the time with the exception of the third movement (At the Court of Vladimir the Mighty Sun) where a touch more speed would have been welcome. The LSO plays superbly and Bostein makes many strong points in his interpretation.  What is missing is the grandeur and poignancy of the score, particularly in the finale's soft epilogue - you won't hear the magic of. Stokowski, Ormandy or Rakhlin.

Recorded in England's Watford Town Hall in January 2002, with James Mallinson as producer and Everett Porter as engineer, we have the usual Telarc super-wide dynamic range which in this music is a bit of a problem.  Scored for a huge orchestra heavy in percussion, Ilya has tremendous climaxes, particularly in the last movement, vividly captured on this recording.  However, some helpful mixing might have been done with the sul ponticello strings of the second movement (Il'ya Murometz and Solovei the Brigand), heard mostly at the beginning and end of the  movement. It's a magic effect missed on this recording - if your volume is set to accommodate the big climaxes, these strings are virtually inaudible. In my Kalmus score these are marked pp, not pppppp!  Perhaps this will be somewhat corrected when the multi-channel version of this recording appears (see REVIEW).  In the meantime, Ilya aficionados have much to enjoy - superb brass throughout, especially the sensational French horn calls in the last movement. 

An Ilya collection must have at least one of Stokowski's recordings, the fine private reissue of Ormandy's stereo RCA set (see REVIEW), and the Nathan Rakhlin Melodiya recording which fortunately has just been issued on a private label (see REVIEW). Hermann Scherchen's pioneering mono recording is available on Rediscovery.  There still is room for another modern digital recording of Glière's towering magnum opus. 

R.E.B. (January 2003)