On 23 July I posted an article titled Sibelius corrected on the music of Sibelius as interpreted by Evgeny Mravinsky and the Leningrad Symphony Orchestra, in 1991 renamed the Saint Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra, today conducted by Yuri Temirkanov.
In that article I posted two audio clips from Sibelius’ Symphony No. 7 Op.105 recorded in 1965 which demonstrated the Russian trombone and trumpet sound 25 years before the Berlin Wall officially came tumbling down in June 1990.
Attached below are three further audio excerpts from Mravinsky /Leningrad recordings, Capriccio Italien Op45, recorded 1949 and Arabian Dance from the Nutcracker Ballet Op.71, recorded 1949, all written by Tchaikovsky, all demonstrating what I like to think of as the Russian and Mravinsky love for loud percussion.* First and second are the Arabian Dance and third the tambourine in Capriccio. In this latter excerpt one does not hear the sound of Tambourine jingles, but the “Thwacks” on its skin head are impressive.
* There is much food for thought in these recordings. Everytime I played the Tambourine in Arabian Dance (Danse Arabe), I was constrained by the thought of having to play very soft. This was re-enforced on occasion by conductors signaling me to play softer still. But think, women all over the east and in India, accompanied their dancing with the Tambourine. The melody is soft and sensual, the Tambourine is the sparkle. It should be featured. Why attempt to blend its metallic percussive sound with whispering strings?
The end of Capriccio Italien is in four parts, a triple time Presto, an Allegro maestoso and the Presto again with a duple time coda. The Prestos are Saltarellos, a fast Italian dance dating from the 14th c. accompanied by bagpipes or button accordian and Tambourine. Other notable uses for the Saltarello were by Mendelssohn in the 4th movement of his Symphony No.4 “Italian” and Berlioz Roman Carnival Overture.