Magazine article Gramophone

Rachmaninov: Symphony No. 1

Magazine article Gramophone

Rachmaninov: Symphony No. 1

Article excerpt


Symphony No. 1, Op 13. Prince Rostislav

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra/Vasily Petrenko

Warner Classics (F) 409596-2 (59' * DDD)

Vasily Petrenko rounds off his cycle of Rachmaninov symphonies for Warner (formerly EMI) Classics with this characteristically articulate and highly charged account of the epic First, magnificently played by an orchestra currently at the very top of its game. Composed between 1895 and 1897, the D minor symphony is an extraordinarily ambitious, prodigiously inventive and subtly integrated canvas, whose calamitous St Petersburg world premiere under Glazunov's baton plunged its gifted young creator into a prolonged state of depression. Tragically, the piece was never heard again during Rachmaninov's lifetime and only posthumously reconstructed from the surviving orchestral parts.

On the whole, the work's most perceptive interpreters to date--Svetlanov (USSR SO; Melodiya), de Waart (Rotterdam PO; Philips, 12/79--nla), Pletnev (DG), Anissimov (Naxos) and Kocsis (BMC)--tend not to deviate that much from the 1947 score. Frustratingly, Petrenko is hardly shy when it comes to tweaking the text, most notably (and, to my ears, deleteriously) adding liberal dollops of percussion throughout. …

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