Rachmaninoff: Symphony No 2/liadov: The Enchanted

Album cover art for upc 5099994946222
Label: EMI
Catalog: 494622B
Format: CD

Pappano, Antonio

Rachmaninov: Symphony No.2, Lyadov: The Enchanted Lake

Wholenote Discoveries - June 2011
“If there were a Conservatory of Music in Hell, Rachmaninoff would receive from it the first prize for this symphony.” So wrote one critic after the first symphony’s premier in 1897, for which the composer had the fondest hopes... a dismal event, due in no small part to an inebriated conductor, Alexander Glazunov, who was shamefully ill-prepared. This failure led Rachmaninov to enter a state of self-doubt and lethargy, even though he was known around the world as the composer of the Prelude in C sharp minor, opus 3. Eventually, after three months of daily treatment by Dr. Dahl, a psychiatrist and hypnotist who practiced a form of autosuggestion, his confidence returned. Rachmaninov’s Second Symphony followed in 1907, for which the composer conducted the premier. It is unashamedly romantic. Rachmaninov was of the late Romantic Era remaining a 19th Century composer who lived and wrote well into the 20th. Even though he revolutionised nothing nor ventured beyond the established instrumentation and traditional forms, his every composition is unmistakeably Rachmaninov. There is no shortage of fine performances available, some with cuts, beginning with the splendid Vladimir Sokoloff / Cleveland recording of 1928 but Pappano’s is at least equal to the best and in some respects better. From the opening bars there is a mood of tranquility and repose, a feeling of being... not of doing. The Scherzo still bustles but more open and less agitated. The Adagio lingers and luxuriates in the sensuality of Rachmaninov’s gorgeous score. Pappano lets them out in the finale’s allegro vivace bringing the symphony to a triumphant close. I loved it! The performance of Lyadov’s Enchanted Lake from the same 2009 concerts in Rome is a perfect set-up for the symphony. The six minute, diaphanous impressionist water colour barely rises above pianissimo without a ripple. Bruce Surtees
Conductor Antonio Pappano leads Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia on this recording of one of the 20th century’s most thrilling and emotive symphonies, Sergei Rachmaninov’s Symphony No. 2. This is coupled with Anatoly Liadov’s beautiful tone poem The Enchanted Lake. Rachmaninov’s symphony and Liadov’s tone poem continue the Russian theme of two of Pappano’s and the Orchestra’s previous releases: Tchaikovsky Fantasies and Overtures and Symphonies Nos. 4-6, about which The Observer reported, “These sweeping performances show how swiftly Pappano has forged a rapport with his superb Roman players, bringing an unusually Italianate passion to the brooding Russian intensity.”

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