“Stokowski's orchestrations, as flamboyant and full of flair as his interpretations as a conductor, have increasingly been accepted and welcomed on disc, a good sign that rigidly purist attitudes have nowadays softened. This Naxos collection of Stokowski's arrangements offers outstanding performances by the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, brilliantly recorded.
Few would claim that Stokowski's arrangement of Pictures at an Exhibition matches, let alone outshines, that of Ravel. But with its weighty brass it is certainly more Russian. In fact – one of the most serious shortcomings – Stokowski omits two of the movements, 'Tuileries' and the 'Market Place at Limoges' on the grounds that they are too French. Yet Serebrier's new performance makes it very convincing with speeds well chosen and the brass wonderfully incisive.
The atmospheric qualities of the Boris Godunov Symphonic Synthesis come over superbly too, starting with a hauntingly rarefied bassoon solo, even if the recording catches the clicking of the keys. The mystery of the chimes in the Coronation scene as well as the Death scene are more evocatively handled. If A Night on the Bare Mountain finds the Naxos recording rather less immediate than in the other items, the weight of the arrangement comes over well, and the Khovanshchina Entr'acte has impressive weight and clarity.
The extra items also weigh in Serebrier's favour: an arrangement of a Tchaikovsky song that explores an astonishingly wide emotional range within a tiny span and the jolly Humoresque, a piano piece that Stravinsky memorably used in his ballet The Fairy's Kiss. Finally, a baldly effective piece, attributed to Stokowski himself, based not just on a Christmas hymn but on Ippolitov-Ivanov's In a Manger.” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010
“Serebrier's own imposing, heavyweight style yields different results to the volatile Knussen… but it's always absorbing. Something of the Stokowski sound is filtered through the refined texturing of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, and further enhanced by the spacious concert-hall acoustic.” BBC Music Magazine, October 2005
“…outstanding performances by the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, brilliantly recorded in sound if anything even more spectacular and more cleanly focused than that on the discs from Chandos and DG.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2005