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Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943)
Symphony No.2 in E minor Op.27 (1906/07)
Scherzo in D minor (1887)
Vocalise Op.34/14 (1912 rev.1915)
Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra of Moscow Radio/Vladimir Fedoseyev
Recorded 1999 no location noted
RELIEF CR 991062 [63.40]



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This is rather a disappointment. It’s not necessarily that Fedoseyev’s bracing and brisk reading with a finale cut takes only just over 52 minutes so much as the recording causes sometimes insurmountable problems. No location is specified but the recording engineers have not been able to subdue a ruinous glassiness on the violins’ tone and there is a muddiness throughout that obliterates a considerable amount of detail. This is particularly true in the slow movement where wind counterpoint is barely audible.

Fedoseyev is here committed to a performance of symphonic stature and cohesion. He favours fluidity over lingering, the presumed long line to incidental felicities. So his first movement can be rather abrupt and occasionally curtly phrased with some want of affection. There are also some moments of bumpy phrasing; things don’t quite flow and again he’s hardly helped by a sound quality that veils string entries and submerges things generally. In the slow movement he is clear-eyed, caesurae between paragraphal points brief, his goal one of symphonic tension exercised through tempo relation. I admire the ambition whilst finding the results unconvincing and unmoving. In the finale I’m afraid untamed trumpets tend to overbalance the texture and the strings are never really "there" in the balance; and for all Fedoseyev’s ambitions at a real symphonic statement the end result can be a bit slack rhythmically.

Coupled with the symphony are the early and charming Scherzo and a pleasantly aloof Vocalise (but then who wants a pleasantly aloof Vocalise?).

Jonathan Woolf



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