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Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943)
Official Collection Vol. 9
Symphony No. 2 in E minor (1906-7) [64:11]
The Rock Op. 7 (1893) [14:03]
State Symphony Orchestra of the
Russian Federation/Evgeny Svetlanov
rec. Grand Radio Hall, Moscow, 2-7 October 1995.
WARNER MUSIC FRANCE
5101 12235-2 [78:30]
Music France issued a three CD set devoted to the symphonic
cycle recorded by Svetlanov in Moscow 1995, adding other
works into the bargain – Caprice Bohémien, Scherzo
in D minor, Isle of the Dead and The Rock.
The number of that three CD set is 5101 12238-2. The Second
appears here in independent guise coupled with The Rock.
left behind multiple recordings of the Symphonies and those
who are familiar with them will know that they varied significantly
over the years. This was especially the case in respect of
the Second, in which textual matters prove problematic. Svetlanov’s
1964 recording of the Symphony was grievously cut and ran
to only fifty-four minutes. This 1995 performance is a good
ten minutes slower and reflects Svetlanov’s last thoughts
on cuts in the slow movement and finale.
one might expect he establishes a powerful sense of melancholy
from the outset, allowing room for his distinguished wind
principals to phrase. These players are some of the most
characterful instrumentalists around in this repertoire and
Svetlanov was always fortunate in having such players in
his orchestra. He cultivates a natural sense of momentum;
rubati are never excessive and when the music becomes convulsive
its turbulence emerges from the fabric of the music making
without unnecessary stridency. It’s true that Svetlanov still
cultivated old school Russian brass blare but here it works;
climaxes are dynamic and shaped with inexorable power; the
music is baleful, predatory, portentous but never uncontrolled.
well aerated and full of decisive direction the scherzo is
another winner with some especially joyous phrasing in the meno
mosso section, which is gorgeously weighted and balanced.
Svetlanov proves a warm, and highly effective exponent of
the slow movement. It’s richly phrased but never congeals;
there’s no bogus sentiment, the lower strings are richly
burnished and ensemble is commendably tight. The performance
sounds so much longer breathed than the cut 1964 performance,
and so much more convincing. The lower brass come into their
own in the finale, abetted by the percussion; buoyancy is
maintained to the end, themes etched with precision and care
and the corporate sonority of the orchestra is powerfully
vivid in this recording.
a most impressive and persuasive account of the Second Symphony – liquid,
strong, yielding, affecting, avoiding bombast and piety but
nevertheless full of emotive candour. It’s coupled with The
Rock, an early and not yet quite characteristic work
written in 1893 when the composer was twenty. However incidents
and paragraphs are mapped with the same kind of care as we
heard in the Symphony. The strings are unleashed at various
points, and the oppressive, turbulent brass cast a powerful
spell in a performance that impresses at each succeeding
and full of candour these are echt-Svetlanov readings. They’re
performances of clear-eyed architecture and communicative
Gerard Hoffnung CDs
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