are remastering analogue Philips recordings from the 1960s
and 1970s as part of their RQR series. The discs offer
both CD and SACD layers, but the emphasis is on surround
sound. Quite why these Rotterdam performances were selected
for this treatment isn’t clear, as they weren’t front-runners
in their LP form. The re-mastered Sir Colin Davis/Berlioz
recordings are a different matter entirely; the classic
Concertgebouw Symphonie fantastique
is already out
(PTC 5186 184) and the Requiem
is promised for July
(PTC 5186 191).
is this all-Russian disc worth resurrecting? De Waart’s
Rachmaninov is spacious, yet the playing seems strangely
flaccid. The cumulative power of the first movement simply
isn’t there and those distinctive touches – the lonely
cor anglais, for instance – lack the necessary tingle factor.
Apart from that there is precious little instrumental detail
on either layer. Very odd indeed.
though the Rotterdam Philharmonic play eloquently in the
Largo – the strings are particularly yearning – they sound
bland. And then there’s the curious incident of the timp
stroke at the end of this movement. It isn’t in the score
but, to be fair, other conductors – Jansons and Steinberg
among them – tack it on too. It’s an unnecessary embellishment
and, in this case, it’s clumsily executed as well.
on to the second movement the unison horns at the start
are just too recessed to make an impact. In fact the perspectives
are a problem throughout, the orchestra placed further
back than is ideal. This soft-grained sound, combined with
de Waart’s lacklustre conducting, results in a performance
that’s low in energy and short on excitement.
the lovely Adagio the rising string theme is beautifully
articulated and the ensuing clarinet ‘aria’ produces one
of the few thrills on this disc. But that doesn’t even
begin to compensate for an otherwise unremittingly dull
performance. And although the final movement heralds the
arrival of some much-needed drama it turns out to be short
lived. Even those powerful, swirling melodies sound unbelievably
have clearly miscalculated with this release. Yes, there
are listeners who crave multichannel Rachmaninov but surely
they’d want something a bit more enticing than this? If
you’re after a vital, vigorous performance of this symphony – albeit
in old-fashioned stereo – try Mariss Jansons and the St
EMI Encore 5850752 (or in three CD set – see
) or splash out on the much-admired Yevgeni Svetlanov
box (Warner Classics 112238) (see
his centenary year one can only hope that Rimsky-Korsakov
gets some worthwhile new recordings. The Capriccio Espagnol
isn’t his finest work, but it’s one of his most popular.
According to the composer it should ‘glitter with dazzling
orchestral colour’, instructions that Jansons and the London
Philharmonic take to heart in their fizzing collection
of Russian lollipops (EMI 5751722). By contrast the Dutch
band sound desperately drab in this work. The too-distant
horns struggle to make amends in the Variations, but even
at this stage the performance is beyond rescue.
least the side drum and brass that announce the gypsy song
should make one sit up and take notice. Jansons and the
LPO manage it easily enough, but then they are aided by
a wide-ranging Abbey Road recording. By contrast the Dutch
performance is tepid and although it does warm up a little
in the Fandango it never comes to the boil.
likes to find some
redeeming features in a recording
but as with de Waart’s recent Zarathustra
there simply aren’t any here. Indeed, it’s hard to imagine
less inspired performances of these two concert favourites.
The liner-notes are adequate but the track listings are
and sonically perverse. Avoid.