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Rachmaninov: The Bells / Serebrier, Russian National Orchestra


Release Date: 09/28/2010 
Label:  Warner Classics   Catalog #: 680255  
Composer:  Alexander GlazunovModest MussorgskySergei RachmaninovDmitri Shostakovich
Performer:  Wenn-Sinn YangAndrei PopovSergei LeiferkusLyubov Petrova
Conductor:  José Serebrier
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Russian National OrchestraMoscow State Chamber Choir
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

The whole concert is a success from beginning to end - interpretatively, sonically and programmatically.

The centre-piece of this concert, the closing concert of the First International Rostropovich Festival given in April 2010, was Rachmaninoff's The Bells. Presiding was José Serebrier, whose Russian roots are strong, and whose idiomatic conducting of such music - for example his top class Glazunov symphony cycle (Warner) - adds lustre to the enterprise. (Watch out also for Serebrier's complete Glazunov concertos which is "in the works" Ed.).


What's so consistently impressive about his account of the Rachmaninoff is its marrying of architectural surety and consistently fine vocal
Read more and instrumental contributions. Sometimes one has one, but not the other. Here we have both. This applies equally to the trio of soloists, Lyubov Petrova, Andrei Popov and Sergei Leiferkus, and indeed to the engineering which captures the full sound spectrum with commendable fidelity and no loss of focus. The audience is also very quiet. Critics often remark on this fact, as if puzzling to themselves whether so many patching sessions have taken place that the original concert has been entirely effaced. Here it seems not, and once can well believe it given the conductor's methodical and eloquent control throughout. The pacing of The Bells is notably successful. Serebrier is a good deal tauter than, say, Svetlanov who preferred to locate a greater weight in the two Lento movements, the first in particular, which he drew out to its full expressive capacity. It is a perfectly acceptable view, though I suspect many listeners will prefer the greater sense of movement Serebrier unleashes, the better to proportion the work more securely. He takes a very similar tempo as Svetlanov in the Scherzo but Serebrier's account is better balanced and recorded than the rival Russian account.


The rest of the concert is equally desirable. It began with a sparkling performance of Shostakovich's Festive Overture, a compound here of brio, brilliance and surefooted musical good sense, and avoiding pot-boiling pitfalls. Glazunov's Chant du ménestrel, with cellist Wen-Sinn Yang, receives a warm and thoughtful reading, with fine wind statements into the bargain. We also have Stokowski's bold and powerful orchestration of the Entr'acte from Act IV of Mussorgsky's Khovanschina, the glistening power of which elicits a chorus of 'bravos' from the audience. And to close we have the conductor's own impressive orchestration of Rachmaninoff's Vocalise, written for, and unveiled at, the commemorative event.


There are no texts for The Bells, though I daresay this will not debar many from acquiring this superb performance. In fact, the whole concert is a success from beginning to end - interpretatively, sonically and programmatically.


-- Jonathan Woolf, MusicWeb International

Recorded live at the First International Rostropovich Festival, this version of The Bells is terrific, and extremely well sung by the three soloists and chorus. Serebrier generates a real thrill of excitement in the “Alarm Bells” third movement, but most impressively he catches the flow of the slow second and fourth movements to perfection. Whether or not you want the other pieces, or this “bits and pieces” live concert generally, is a matter of personal taste. The shorter items are also very well done, but the tinny trumpets in the Shostakovich most unflatteringly reveal the very dry acoustic of the Tchaikovsky Conservatory’s Great Hall. I would love to hear Serebrier remake The Bells under good studio conditions, but even that doesn’t detract from the excellence of what he achieves here.

-- David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

1.
Chant du ménéstrel, Op. 71 by Alexander Glazunov
Performer:  Wenn-Sinn Yang (Cello)
Conductor:  José Serebrier
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Russian National Orchestra
Written: 1900 
Date of Recording: 04/2010 
Venue:  Tchaikovsky Hall, Moscow Conservatoire 
2.
Khovanshchina: Act 4 Prelude "Entr'acte" by Modest Mussorgsky
Conductor:  José Serebrier
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Russian National Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1872-1880; Russia 
Date of Recording: 04/2010 
Venue:  Tchaikovsky Hall, Moscow Conservatoire 
Notes: Orchestration by Leopold Stokowski. 
3.
The Bells, Op. 35 by Sergei Rachmaninov
Performer:  Andrei Popov (Tenor), Sergei Leiferkus (Baritone), Lyubov Petrova (Soprano)
Conductor:  José Serebrier
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Russian National Orchestra,  Moscow State Chamber Choir
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1913; Russia 
Date of Recording: 04/2010 
Venue:  Tchaikovsky Hall, Moscow Conservatoire 
4.
Songs (14), Op. 34: no 14, Vocalise by Sergei Rachmaninov
Conductor:  José Serebrier
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Russian National Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1912-1915; Russia 
Date of Recording: 04/2010 
Venue:  Tchaikovsky Hall, Moscow Conservatoire 
Notes: Orchestration by José Serebrier. 
5.
Festive Overture, Op. 96 by Dmitri Shostakovich
Conductor:  José Serebrier
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Russian National Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1954; USSR 
Date of Recording: 04/2010 
Venue:  Tchaikovsky Hall, Moscow Conservatoire 

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