Gergiev and The Kirov Opera are renown for their recordings of rare Russian operas. Recently they have also started to make recordings of classic works. Some of these recordings have been extremely good (like The Rite of Spring, Sheherazade) but some have been dissapointments (Verdi's Requiem and The Pathetique). For this recording Gergiev has changed his orchestra from the Kirov to VPO, but still all the trademarks of Gergiev are present: the dark bass sound and extravagant brass playing. The change has also some benefits. Usually when the Kirov brass play loud they tend to have a strong vibrato, which the VPO brass manage to avoid without losing in intensity. This is a very exciting performance. The Great Port of Kiev is played like The Great Wall of China but I must agree with the other reviewer that Gergiev's tempo's sound a bit odd at times, especially at the end. This recording isn't mere impressive brass playing, but also very subtle. I can't remember ever hearing the Old Castle played as beautifully as on this disc. Gergiev truly knows how to phrase the movement.
Selection of the fillers could have been more imaginitive, but they are played so well that they don't seem like mere fillers. The Prelude to Khovanschina is played much better then on Gergiev's older recording with the Kirov. The VPO strings play magnificently. The performance of The Night on the Bare Mountain is very brutal and robust. I didn't appreciate this piece that much before, but Gergiev renders it into a true orchestral spectacular.
A must for all Gergiev fans and I think everyone, who loves The Pictures must at least here this recording.