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Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943)
Symphony No. 2 in E minor (1906-7) [52.50]
Dances from Aleko (Women's Dance; Men's Dance) [4:14
Symphony Orchestra/Paavo Järvi
rec. 30 April-1 May 2006, Music Hall, Cincinnati, Ohio, DDD
TELARC CD-80670 [69.57]
release Telarc remind us again that they are a living label.
I have come to associate them with relaunches at midprice
in unchanged livery of top price issues from the 1980s and
1990s. Not so here. This disc continues a stream of Paavo
Järvi Cincinnati premium price discs which includes CD-80616
(Dvorak 9; Martinů 2 - review)
and CD-80585 (Sibelius 2; Tubin 5 - review).
is simply sumptuous yet accommodating acres of detail. Illustrations
abound - the surging little accompanimental violin figures
at 9:42 in the first movement and the clarinet graces at
15:10 - minutiae that can be so easily glossed. Sheer delight
in the recording quality cannot be restrained - listen to
the little woodwind grunts at 5:12 in the second movement
and even more so to their pleasing ambience. It's a pleasure
to greet and recognise the work of engineering team Robert
Woods and Michael Bishop.
is full of good Rachmaninov 2s. What distinguishes this from
the rest? At 52.50 this must involve cuts following the practice
common in the 1950s (Kletzki, Boult?) until Previn broke
the mould in 1972 with an uncut version. Järvi is brisk anyway,
favouring an urgency of pulse and driving a coach and horses
through the languid Sanderling (67:21) Previn and Rozhdestevnsky
(66:00) camps not to mention the recent Svetlanov on French
Warner (64:00). Järvi is in the Jose Cura corner. Cura's
excellent version is racy and rapid (Avie AV0022 - see review)
(58.14). Golovanov is as usual sui generis - on Boheme
if you can find it. He gives an eccentric performance which
calls down primeval fire from the skies; certainly worth
experiencing if you can bear the 1940s Soviet mono sound.
Janssons with the St Petersburg sounds more natural but lacks
version not to be forgotten is Kurt Sanderling's from 1989
recorded in St Barnabas Church, Mitcham, Surrey now on Warner
Classics Apex 0927 49044 2 at bargain price (see
This plays for 67.21. Sanderling coaxes and caresses every
and relishes each bar. His orchestra sounds voluptuously
ample and the strings sing and seethe remarkably well. He
reminded me of Ormandy in the fabulous Philadelphian years.
Despite the long playing time Sanderling weighs and shapes
the phrases and momentum with experienced judgement. Things
go less well in his arthritic finale which ought to have
a galvanic and euphoric rush - something which Järvi and
Rozhdestvensky delivers uproariously. When Järvi unleashes
this archetypically festal movement he stands in line with
similar exuberant splendours in the finales of Glazunov 5,
6 and 8. Despite his impeccable Russian credentials Downes
and the BBCPO did not hold my attention but another British
conductor, Vernon Handley on long-deleted Tring, should also
be heard - outstanding.
delivers a superb version for those who are impatient of
a luxurious swooning pace - the very thing Vernon Handley
warns against in Bax exegesis. You can bracket this Järvi
close to Cura who is also accorded a superb recording but
Järvi is yet faster. This is a Rachmaninov symphony for our
impatient times yet is not so brutal as to short-change the
essence of this fine symphony. Perhaps a few moments in the
finale where the full-steam-ahead scouted over the emotional
cargo but otherwise fully recommendable if you like your
Rachmaninov pushed forward.
include a flittery-fluttery Mendelssohnian scherzo with the
odd Rimskian cross-current. We recalls the composer's piano
transcription of Mendelssohn's scherzo from Midsummer
Night's Dream. Aleko is one of Rachmaninov's three
shortish operas - ignoring the incomplete Monna Vanna -
extracts from which were recorded by Chandos. The Women's
Dance is middlingly vigorous but the central section
is more personal and romantic. The Men's Dance crashes
with Mussorgskian energy and with gloomy Russian nationalistic
material redolent of Glazunov's Stenka Razin.
notes are by composer and writer Kyle Gann.
to a first recommendation in a field heaving with alternatives
of every type - what a contrast with the 1970s and 1980s
- I would still go for Rozhdestvensky on Regis (see review).
That said there is a great deal to please and exhilarate in this
version from Telarc.
Gerard Hoffnung CDs
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