I have owned this two-CD set for several years now. I finally decided to listen carefully to all the works presented on it. Overall, this is a fine achievement, but the listener can definitely find better, technically refined, tuned performances of these often-overlooked works by Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov.
For example, "Scheherazade" is given idiomatically and persuasively by Svetlanov and his players, but it suffers from severe sonic distortion in tutti secions where the entire orchestra plays, like the opening notes. In "The Story of the Kalendar Prince," the solo trombonist gives a horrible solo, with tempi that are too slow and an awful, blatty vibrato, though the trumpet solo is excellent. Still, this performance is very good overall.
Next, the First Symphony suffers from out-of-tune sections in the first movement. There is also a noticeable amount of rhythmic "fudging" by the low strings. Again, the tutti sections suffer from severe distortion. The second movement is beautiful and serene, though. This is very special symphony which generally comes off very well.
The U.S.S.R Symphony's performance of "Antar" under Svetlanov begins very out of tune. It is actually hard to tell which key the orchestra is playing in! Overall, this is one of the better performances of the set. The drama and tension, as well as Rimsky's brilliant orchestration, are captured very well, and this performance will be sure to excite.
Finally, the Third Symphony presented here is also one of the better performances of the set. It does not seem as exaggerated at the tutti sections, in the sections where precise rhythm is most important, and the overall blend of the orchestra. This symphony is very little-known, and it is wonderful to have a great performance of it.
Overall, I would recommend this set to any listener. However, though I have not listened to any other recordings of these works, I have researched which recordings to have. I would recommend Neeme Jarvi's recordings of the Rimsky symphonies, coupled with the Capriccio Espagnole, on the Deutsch Grammophon label. Another recommendation for these works is that of Dmitri Kitajenko on the Chandos label. It is a two-CD set with the Capriccio, the symphonies, the Russian Easter Overture, and the Rimsky Piano Concerto. These are difficult to find, however, and this set suffices, for the most part.