Leonard Slatkin’s Vox Rachmaninov cycle was one of his most successful early series of recordings, and he still has the measure of this music. The key to the Third Symphony lies in not playing it like the Second. In other words, even though the second subject of the first movement is one of those luscious, romantic tunes for which the composer is famous, the movement as a whole falls to pieces if the conductor plays it too indulgently. This doesn’t happen in the Second Symphony, or the First, where the music doesn’t have the same kind of momentum as we find in the Third.
Slatkin clearly understands this. He doesn’t slam on the brakes at this point, but maintains the music’s flow. And so it all coheres, as it does in theRead more central Adagio with its effortlessly integrated scherzo section, and even in the usually episodic finale. Similarly, in the Symphonic Dances, the opening Non allegro never drags, and the big tune features a particularly soulful saxophone solo. The central waltz has the right rhythmic lilt without losing its spooky atmospherics, and in the finale the central Lento never sounds as though an episode from another work has accidentally wandered in.
Slatkin is also one of those conductors who lets the tam-tam decay naturally on the last chord. Not only does the music sound better when done that way, it also follows the composer’s admittedly ambiguous notation more logically. Through it all the Detroit Symphony plays the music about as beautifully as it can be done, and Naxos’ engineering is excellent. As with this team’s previous version of the Second Symphony, these performances are solid winners that will reward repeated listening.
Symphony no 3 in A minor, Op. 44by Sergei Rachmaninov
Detroit Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic Written: 1936/1938; USA
Symphonic Dances, Op. 45by Sergei Rachmaninov
Detroit Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic Written: 1940; USA
Symphony No. 3 in A minor, Op. 44: I. Lento - Allegro moderato
Symphony No. 3 in A minor, Op. 44: II. Adagio ma non troppo
Symphony No. 3 in A minor, Op. 44: III. Allegro
Symphonic Dances, Op. 45: I. Non allegro
Symphonic Dances, Op. 45: II. Andante con moto (Tempo di valse)
Symphonic Dances, Op. 45: III. Lento assai - Allegro vivace - Lento assai - Come prima - Allegro vivace
Average Customer Review: ( 4 Customer Reviews )
World Class PerformanceJuly 31, 2014By Henry S. (Springfield, VA)See All My Reviews"Along with the 2nd, Rachmaninov's 3rd Symphony holds a permanent place in the standard orchestral inventory, and with good reason. The delicate work of the winds in the work's brooding introspection, systematically giving way to savage outbursts of late Romantic or neo-Romantic explosions by the full orchestra, together result in a musical score that is simply a magnificent listening experience, whether in the concert hall or at home with your stereo system. Plenty of extraordinary recordings of the 3rd Symphony, as well as Rachmaninov's masterly Symphonic Dances, have appeared over the years. To that list of outstanding recordings must be added this exquisite, dynamic, and altogether powerful performance by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and its music director Leonard Slatkin. The technical qualities of this Naxos disk are sensational- wide dynamic range, crystal clarity in every fortissimo and pianissimo passage, and realistic balancing, all of which gives the listener the sensation of being in the concert hall, 10th row center- it really is that good. If any of you may be wondering about the value of yet another Rachmaninov 3rd Symphony recording, please rest assured that this exhilarating performance will quickly scuttle any such doubts. Naxos has a real winner with this disk, and I think you owe it to yourself to give it a try. Strong recommendation."Report Abuse
Fine RachmaninoffSeptember 10, 2013By Bruce M. (Los Angeles, CA)See All My Reviews"While I agree with most of Hurwitz's review, I must take issue with one of his points. I think it's a mistake to let the tam-tam stroke continue to vibrate after the orchestra cuts off. To me, this dissipates all the considerable energy that Rachmaninoff has generated as well as going against his wishes (as recorded by Ormandy under Rachmaninoffs supervision)."Report Abuse
Beauty with a backboneJune 20, 2013By Dean Frey See All My Reviews"I haven't been bowled over by the last two Leonard Slatkin discs I've reviewed. I found his Berlioz somewhat over-refined, and he seemed disengaged in his view of Ravel orchestral works. But he finds the mark in this new CD of Rachmaninov's Third Symphony. A certain amount of reserve is an advantage in a work that can seem over-ripe and flacid when the conductor is too self-indulgent. Slatkin finds the back-bone in this highly romantic music, and he has the tools to produce a thrilling reading of the piece. Those tools include a rich string sound and strong brass from the Detroit players, and a vivid and absolutely lifelike sound from the Naxos engineers. With a similarly taut, lively and intelligent reading of the Symphonic Dances included, this disc is a real winner. It might even win some new fans for a composer whose reputation in this century seems lower than it was in the last."Report Abuse