One of the most grown-up review sites around

50,000 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

  Founder: Len Mullenger             Senior Editor: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  

Some items
to consider


A most rewarding CD
Renate Eggebrecht violin

Leticia Gómez-Tagle
Chopin, Liszt, Scarlatti

Acte Prealable returns
with New Releases

Anderson Choral music

colourful and intriguing

Pekarsky Percussion Ensemble

one of Berlioz greatest works

Rebecca Clarke Frank Bridge
High-octane performances

An attractive Debussy package

immaculate Baiba Skride

eloquent Cello Concerto

tension-filled work

well crafted and intense

another entertaining volume

reeking of cordite

Pappano with a strong cast

imaginatively constructed quartets

the air from another planet

vibrantly sung

NOT a budget performance

very attractive and interesting

finesse and stylistic assurance

REVIEW Plain text for smartphones & printers


Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943)
Symphony No. 2 in E minor, Op. 27 (1906-07) [54:44]
USSR Radio Symphony Orchestra/Alexander Gauk
rec. c.1955, Moscow

Alexander Gauk has been relatively well served by one or two companies determined to bring back some of his discs to the fold (try Brilliant Classics). Even so his discography encompassed recordings that have largely evaded the restoration arms of all but the most questing of labels. It’s perfectly possible that this Melodiya disc, which earned greater exposure in the West when it was leased to Westminster, has made it to silver disc though, if so, I’ve not come across it.

Gauk excelled in a number of areas – he’s not just one of the great Miaskovsky conductors – but his particular expertise was largely in his native repertoire. Given his intense approach Rachmaninov would seem a perfect fit. He accompanied Lev Oborin in a 1947 recording of the Second Piano Concerto – now to be found on APR – and this 1955 LP of the Second Symphony reflects the romantically expressive affiliations he displays in that concerto performance.

The glowering basses and yearning winds are all very distinctive given the USSR Symphony is involved, and the orchestra as a whole copes well with Gauk’s heady and dramatic propulsion, his accelerandi through the music’s paragraphal points. Gauk was always very good at power and glower, and he shows how well he prepares for the apocalyptic outbursts in the first movement, at around 12:40 – the brass and percussion reflecting the tumultuous switchback theatre he has set in motion. In the scherzo he finds moments that are almost festive, and others that are martial – the return to the tempo primo bringing with it a satisfying circular sense of motion. His plasticity of phrasing pays particular dividends, naturally, in the slow movement where the clarinet principal is not encouraged to linger too sentimentally or melodramatically. Waves of expression course through the movement – not volcanically as with a conductor like Golovanov – but with a degree more restraint. The finale is strongly characterised and projected, forming a turbulent coda to a notably self-assured and attractively warm-hearted, soulful reading. There are, however, the-then standard cuts.

The transfer has been taken from a Westminster LP, and has been very well done indeed. Gauk aficionados should track this down – obviously other options from younger Russians such as Svetlanov and Rozhdestvensky are better recorded.

Jonathan Woolf



We are currently offering in excess of 50,400 reviews

Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
(THE Polish label)
Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Senior Editor
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger