This recording of the First Symphony is arguably the finest since Ashkenazy’s with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra for Decca. Slatkin grinds out the opening bars with real menace, and he conceals the first movement’s episodic construction with flowing tempos and smartly managed transitions. The climax of the development section uses the glockenspiel part that seems to come and go in various recordings, but not the rest of the percussion that we find, say, with Litton on Virgin. Through it all the Detroit Symphony plays splendidly.
The crepuscular scherzo has an attractive lilt, while the Larghetto is just that: a small Largo, not one of Rachmaninov’s more hot and heavy statements in the mode of Symphony No. 2. Kudos toRead more Slatkin for catching the movement’s gentle melancholy so well. As for the finale, it begins with plenty of the requisite panache, and culminates with a dark, powerful, and threatening coda that, if not quite as screamingly intense as Ashkenazy’s (the tempo is a bit quicker), comes as close as makes no difference. The trombones really put on a show here.
As for The Isle of the Dead, Slatkin’s performance doesn’t languish as some others do, and it’s all to the good. You really feel the five-in-a-bar rhythm in this performance, the lapping of the waves against the shore. The climaxes have tremendous impact, and the final appearance of the Dies irae sends a shiver down the spine. The work is all the more gripping for having such a strong rhythmic profile, and like the symphony it’s beautifully played (and recorded). Slatkin always has performed Rachmaninov as well as just about anyone alive today, and this cycle, quietly and with little fanfare as it has gradually appeared, sustains his reputation.
Symphony no 1 in D minor, Op. 13by Sergei Rachmaninov
Detroit Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic Written: 1895; Russia
Isle of the Dead, Op. 29by Sergei Rachmaninov
Detroit Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic Written: 1909; Russia
Ostrov myortvikh (The Isle of the Dead), Op. 29
Symphony No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 13: I. Grave - Allegro ma non troppo - Moderato - Allegro vivace - L'istesso tempo - Allegro molto
Symphony No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 13: II. Allegro animato - Meno mosso - Tempo I
Symphony No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 13: III. Larghetto - Piu mosso - Largo un poco - Con moto - Tempo I
Symphony No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 13: IV. Allegro con fuoco - Marciale - Con animo - Allegro mosso - Allegro con fuoco - Presto - Largo
Average Customer Review: ( 1 Customer Review )
A splendid recording of a problematic symphonyOctober 12, 2013By Dean Frey See All My Reviews"LIke the first two discs in the latest Naxos Rachmaninov Symphonies series, this third and final CD was recorded in Orchestra Hall, the home of the Detroit Symphony. The new disc, which includes the First Symphony and the tone poem The Isle of the Dead, features a picture of the Hall on the CD cover, and the venue provides another splendid, atmospheric recording by producer Blanton Alspaugh and the Naxos crew. Rachmaninov's First Symphony was not a success at its premiere, due to a combination of his own inexperience writing orchestral music and an ill-prepared performance. A hatchet job by the influential critic Cesar Cui was a blow to the young composer's self-esteem, and kept the work out of the repertoire until after Rachmaninov's death. Leonard Slatkin mentions in a note in the CD liner that he had a special advantage in preparing a recording of this Symphony. Eugene Ormandy, who had worked closely with Rachmaninov and who made excellent recordings of the symphonies in Philadelphia in the 1970s, gave him some tips on the best ways to overcome the worst of the problems in the First Symphony. The results are impressive. Taking his cue from Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra, Slatkin calls on the Detroit musicians, especially the string players, to add a sonic sheen to the music which more than makes up for any difficulties in scoring or structure. The DSO sounds drop dead gorgeous when the young composer brings out the lovely melodies that will be his stock in trade for the rest of his career. But Slatkin also makes sure that the piece is taut when it needs to be, and that the music flows. He makes an excellent case for this work. Isle of the Dead is a more mature, and much more assured piece than the Symphony. It receives an strong enough performance here, though I found the symphony more memorable."Report Abuse