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Rachmaninov: Symphony No 1, The Rock / Maazel, Berlin Philharmonic


Release Date: 08/20/2010 
Label:  Dg Galleria Catalog #: 435594   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Sergei Rachmaninov
Conductor:  Lorin Maazel
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 5 Mins. 

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This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

Rachmaninov himself never heard this characterful work again after the fiasco of its first performance. Had he known how firm a place it would achieve at least in the recorded repertory, even he, I hope, would have let his usual coffinhandle expression break into a smile. This is another superb version to provide a very viable alternative to the Ashkenazy/Concertgebouw recording on Decca, which readily took first honours when it appeared. The obvious advantage of the Maazel is that it has a substantial fill up in the early fantasy—The rock—particularly appropriate, when it helps to put the achievement of the symphony into perspective. It is not nearly so inspired a piece, with material far less individual, but there are many touches highly Read more characteristic of the mature composer, and this performance, with speeds brisker than usual and with a manner less ponderous, makes the best possible case. I certainly prefer it to the only other avail able version, that of Weller—used on his 1975 LP as a fill-up for the Third Symphony (Decca Jubilee JB93, 10/80).

In the First Symphony the clarity and transparency of Maazel's Rachmaninov style are just as striking, with the scurrying semiquavers on cellos and basses in the first subject superbly articulated and the fugal° of the development section made light and brilliant. The scherzo is almost Mendelssohnian in its lightness, though Maazel exaggerates the slowing in the Trio section. Whether the metronome markings in the published score (Sikorski), reconstituted from the original parts, are the composer's own is arguable; one might well argue that Ashkenazy's hardly perceptible slowing is too little for the marking meno mosso.

Broadly, as in other works in the two rival series, Ashkenazy is more urgently expressive with warmer, freer rubato sounding very idiomatic, where Maazel is a degree cooler though never inexpressive. With Ashkenazy the slowing for the second subject in the first movement sounds more natural, less contrived than with Maazel. With Ashkenazy the slow movement is gentler and warmer, and it is interesting to find quite a different emphasis between the two in the funeral march-like motif just after fig. 41, Largo un poco. Where Ashkenazy brings out the plaintive quality of the muted horns with subdued low string support, Maazel highlights cellos and basses with horns sounding ghostly behind. The celebrated opening of the finale, once used as the signature tune for Panorama on BBC television, swaggers more brazenly with Ashkenazy, where Maazel is easier, almost genial. At the end too he carefully avoids any suspicion of pomposity in the grave coda with its heavily accented repetitions, adopting a faster speed, in recognition of the con mow marking. Generally however it is Ashkenazy who adopts faster speeds. As for the playing, the Berlin Philharmonic is if anything even more precise in ensemble, a point brought out by the drier acoustic of the recording, which is one of the best that DG have done recently in Berlin's Philharmonie.

-- Edward Greenfield, Gramophone [2/1985, reviewing Symphony no 1 and The Rock]
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Works on This Recording

1.
Symphony no 1 in D minor, Op. 13 by Sergei Rachmaninov
Conductor:  Lorin Maazel
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1895; Russia 
Date of Recording: 03/1983 
Venue:  Philharmonie, Berlin 
Length: 44 Minutes 27 Secs. 
2.
The Rock, Op. 7 by Sergei Rachmaninov
Conductor:  Lorin Maazel
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1893; Russia 
Date of Recording: 1984 
Venue:  Philharmonie, Berlin 
Length: 12 Minutes 40 Secs. 
3.
Songs (14), Op. 34: no 14, Vocalise by Sergei Rachmaninov
Conductor:  Lorin Maazel
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1912-1915; Russia 
Date of Recording: 03/1983 
Venue:  Philharmonie, Berlin 
Length: 5 Minutes 33 Secs. 
4.
Aleko: Intermezzo by Sergei Rachmaninov
Conductor:  Lorin Maazel
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1893; Russia 
Date of Recording: 1984 
Venue:  Philharmonie, Berlin 
Length: 1 Minutes 57 Secs. 

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