“Carlo Ponti’s delicate taste blends with the Russian National Orchestra’s performance to produce an outstanding interpretation... Pentatone's attention to detail and recording technology allows even the foam on the water in [“The Sea and Sinbad’s Ship”] to come alive, and the grace in Tatiana Porshneva’s violin solos adds depth to the beauty of her playing... The “Neopolitan Folk Song” arrangement is a special gem.”
“In Scheherazade, the [Russian National Orchestra] plays beautifully under [Carlo Ponti's] direction, with a rich and colorful sound... The storm and shipwreck of the final movement are suitably cataclysmic and delivered with dazzling virtuosity and precision. Throughout, the excellence of the orchestral playing, conveyed in vivid, transparent sound provides much satisfaction. The violin solos are beautifully and sensitively handled by Tatiana Porshneva.
“In Capriccio espagnol, the two Alborada movements... are very clearly articulated. In the variations, the sumptuous orchestral playing is once again beguiling, especially in the winds. Precise execution and sonic splendor are again in evidence in the concluding segments, combined with an appealing verve... The SACD stereo sound is bright, clear and spacious, with gratifying impact and depth... the details and colors of the score realized in resplendent orchestral playing and vivid, detailed sound.”
Best of 2011
“It's hard to imagine more delightful showpieces for a super audio CD... Carlo Ponti's exceptional conducting, the Russian National Orchestra's sumptuous playing, and PentaTone Classic's fantastic multichannel sound combine to make this a dream SACD for any audiophile and a great demo for anyone who wants to show off high-end stereo equipment... This superb album is highly recommended.”
“The Russian National Orchestra's performance of these popular Rimsky-Korsakov works [Scheherazade] is full of vitality. Conductor Carlo Ponti gives all the works on the album a clear sense of interpretive design and fosters faultless playing from his ensemble.”
“Carlo Ponti... knows [the RNO] well and they know him, offering highly refined playing and care over many telling details in Rimsky-Korsakov’s fragrant Arabian Nights tale Scheherazade. Ponti gives the music plenty of time and space, a relaxed alternative to the usually urgent point-making more commonly heard in this luxurious work... the solo playing is especially good and the reading coheres enjoyably... Capriccio espagnole is also spaciously treated... Neapolitan Song is a lively bonus.”
“...[a] truly fine release featuring excellent performances by the musicians of the Russian National Orchestra topped off with another audience favorite, the Capriccio Espagnol... To all this must be added simply outstanding SACD audio quality... A top recommendation is easily earned for this highly enjoyable release.”
“Ponti’s generally relaxed tempi allow appreciation of some fine solo playing from individual members of the RNO, especially that of the two concertmasters,Tatiana Porshneva (Scheherazade) and Alexei Bruni (Capriccio)... The disc ends with a delightful lollipop, almost worth the price of the disc alone. Rimsky-Korsakov's Neapolitan Song is a sparkling arrangement for orchestra of Luigi Denza's popular song Funiculi, Funiculà... The RNO really sound as if they are enjoying performing this rare novelty, a piece that would make a terrific concert encore... The body and richness of the RNO's fine orchestral playing has been captured with remarkable fidelity. The sound-stage is wide and deep, while Ponti's seating of the players allows antiphonal exchanges between first and second violins to be clearly audible. Percussion and brass are viscerally thrilling throughout.”
“This Scheherazade [sounds] properly sensuous... luxuriant, voluptuous, even sensual. [Ponti's version] is more lyrical than most... with "The Tale of Prince Kalendar" sounding resplendent and dance-like and "The Young Prince and the Young Princess" coming off even better.... Under Ponti's direction, [Capriccio espagnol] contains moments of great beauty.... The Neapolitan Song is full of verve and high spirits..."
“Carlo Ponti, conducting a Russian National Orchestra that is in particularly fine fettle in these recordings, is at pains to bring out all the fine points in these scores with the greatest clarity... Ponti's account of Scheherazade is slower than most versions I have heard, but it is by no means tedious. It's a work in which every little instrumental timbre has a meaning all its own.... At first, I was somewhat puzzled by Ponti's holding back on the climaxes within movements 13, until I realized that his intention was to make the finale all the more thrilling and exciting as it moves through several stages... followed by a stunning coda and a return to the main theme that began the symphony. That theme, representing the voice of the storyteller, Scheherazade herself, recurs in various guises in all four movements, and is played here with distinction by violinist Tatiana Porshneva. Ponti gives equally incisive treatment to the companion work, Capriccio Espagnol... As in Scheherazade, there is a violin solo at key moments, played capably here by Alexei Bruni.”