Dinara Klinton Niederrheinische Sinfoniker
The music of Mily Balakirev has largely disappeared from concert halls today. The dewy new recording by the Niederrheinische Symphoniker under the baton of chief conductor Mihkel Kütson comes at just the right time: the 1st Piano Concerto with Dinara Klinton as soloist, plus the 2nd Symphony and two highly original overtures attest to Balakirev's special place in music history, not least as the spiritus rector of the so-called "Mighty Group". With the "Mighty Group", Balakirev and his comrades-in-arms wanted to commit themselves to genuinely Russian music, in contrast to their "Westernised" colleagues Tchaikovsky and Rubinstein. Balakirev even founded his own music school, which dispensed with classical studies with lots of finger exercises and counterpoint lessons - not always to the students' advantage... Because of his commitment to young musicians, Balakirev often left compositions he had begun lying around for decades. It is uncertain whether this is why the one-movement piano concerto remained unfinished. However, the virtuoso work is convincing in every respect: wide-ranging passages of free fantasizing hint at Liszt and Chopin as models. The 2nd Symphony, which Balakirev was only able to complete towards the end of his life, is also formally idiosyncratic. Russian themes demonstrate Balakirev's deep knowledge of folk music, which he studied on his travels through the Caucasus. With the Niederrheinische Symphoniker, all this sounds fresh and unspent - and in the high-quality 3D recording, it is also an acoustic delight.