Anton Rubinstein was a major figure of Russian musical life in the 19th century and well respected as a composer, concert pianist, conductor, and teacher (his most famous student was Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky
). However, Rubinstein's music has suffered neglect in the 20th and 21st centuries, and the prospect for a major revival seems remote. This double CD from Musikproduktion Dabringhaus und Grimm is a reissue of two volumes released in 2003 and 2004, and the presentation of Rubinstein's orchestral music is as fine as one would expect from this audiophile label. Without doubt the most significant work here is the "Symphony No. 2 in C major, Océan," a magnificent tonal depiction of the sea that never oversteps its formal design as a symphony, and a genuinely popular work in its day, admired as much as any symphony by Beethoven
, or Schumann
. Yet this collection also includes ballet excerpts from Rubinstein's best-remembered opera, "The Demon," his "Cello Concerto No. 1 in A minor," the humoresque "Don Quixote," the "Ouverture Triomphale," the "Trot de Cavalerie," and orchestral arrangements of two piano pieces, the "Sérénade russe No. 1," the "Valse Caprice," a mix of sublime and silly concert works that were once favorites with audiences from Russia to the United States. George Hanson
conducts the Wuppertal Symphony Orchestra
, and cellist Alban Gerhardt
gives the performances adequate energy and vibrancy, and the unprocessed digital recording that MDG has made its specialty gives the music impressive clarity and depth.