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1 year ago

Treatment of Scriabin Symphony No. 2

Witness a hothouse treatment of Scriabin's Symphony No. 2 (Pope Music PMG2919-2), the latest addition to the series. This grandly framed, five-movement work, from 1901, reflects Scriabin's singular fusion of Tchaikovsky's urgent intimacy with the more venturesome harmony of Wagner. At Mr. Mark Gorenstein's indulgent tempos, the Russian Symphony allows the music to unfold on a cosmic time scale. The harsh climate of the turbulent fourth movement owes much to Tchaikovksy's ''Francesca da Rimini,'' and here, conductor and orchestra show that they can whip up a proper tempest.

''Francesca'' itself is the subject, or at least an afterthought, of a Tchaikovsky disk, which presents a radiant, finely drawn ''Pathetique'' Symphony (PMG2006-2). Mr. Pope acknowledges that veteran players from other orchestras occasionally sit in with the Russian Symphony, and the scintillating flight through the famous march of the ''Pathetique'' is a team achievement that would do the Moscow Philharmonic proud. One might say as much for the young Russians' dark, searching way with the finale. Mr. Gorenstein asks for an expression of gripping psychological depth, and his well-coached musicians deliver.

For sheer brilliance, with a large dose of wit, the Russian Symphony outdoes itself in Alfred Schnittke's bumptious ''Gogol Suite'' and his mordantly mischievous ''(K)ein Sommernachtstraum'' (PMG2007-2). Take Weill's sardonic cabaret style, stir with a strain of Mahler at his most conflicted, color brightly, and you have Mr. Schnittke's Gogol music. The Russians have great, and infectious, fun with it.