All the usual Ormandy-Philadelphia hallmarks are there to be
heard in the coupling. Unblushing portamenti (just a hint but a noticeable
hint), opulence of string tone, romantic inclination and the virtuosity
of a world-class orchestra in full flight.
Rachmaninov idolised Tchaikovsky and that is pretty
much to the fore in the First Concerto even after the extensive
revision carried out in 1917 between the Third and Fourth Concertos.
Of course other voices put in an appearance and every time I hear the
finale with its flourish and panache at 00.21 I wonder if the composer
had heard Elgar's Second Symphony. This is a work heavily influenced
not only by Tchaikovsky 1 but also by the Grieg and Schumann. The Fourth
is a favourite of mine but Entremont and Ormandy most of the time take
it at far too syrupy a pace presumably in the interests of point-making.
Either the classic Michelangeli (EMI), the Earl Wild (Chandos) or the
spanking new Danacord set with Oleg Marshev will give a better impression
of a work which deserves to be better known.
The Rhapsody is the oldest recording
here. In fact the recordings gather hiss like moss as you progress from
the first concerto to the fourth and to the Rhapsody. This famous work
is taken at a cracking pace (4.40 and 7.01) and overall this is a very
strong account in which inspiration and delicacy run strong and deep.
I shall return to this again.
The two concertos are not as stirringly imaginative
as they can be in other hands. The Rhapsody is outstanding and I recommend