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Rachmaninov: The Bells [CD]

Vladimir ?inin Audio CD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
Price: £14.57 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o
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Frequently Bought Together

Rachmaninov: The Bells + Rachmaninoiv - Vespers / Liturgy of St John of Chrysostom
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Product details

  • Audio CD (25 Jun 2001)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Decca (UMO)
  • ASIN: B00005AX5X
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 97,821 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Listen to Samples and Buy MP3s

Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Samples
Song Title Time Price
Listen  1. Sergey Vasil'yevich Rachmaninov: The Bells, Op.35 - 1. Allegro ma non tanto (Silver Bells) 6:44£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  2. Sergey Vasil'yevich Rachmaninov: The Bells, Op.35 - 2. Lento (Golden Bells)10:19Album Only
Listen  3. Sergey Vasil'yevich Rachmaninov: The Bells, Op.35 - Version from 1936 (for Henri Wood) - 3. Presto 8:09£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  4. Sergey Vasil'yevich Rachmaninov: The Bells, Op.35 - 4. Lento lugubre (Iron Bell)12:05Album Only
Listen  5. Serge Invanich Taneyev: John of Damascus, op.1 Cantata for Chorus and Orchestra after a poem from A.Tolstoj - 1. Adagio ma non troppo13:18Album Only
Listen  6. Serge Invanich Taneyev: John of Damascus, op.1 Cantata for Chorus and Orchestra after a poem from A.Tolstoj - 2. Andante sostenuto 2:40£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  7. Serge Invanich Taneyev: John of Damascus, op.1 Cantata for Chorus and Orchestra after a poem from A.Tolstoj - 3. Fuga. Allegro - Moderato 7:03£0.79  Buy MP3 


Product Description

Amazon.co.uk

Rachmaninov allegedly considered The Bells to be his best work, and it is not difficult to hear why. Written in 1913, there is a freshness of invention that is irresistible. Perhaps the text (an adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe) struck a chord with this composer's sensibilities: different bells symbolise different facets of existence. This piece deserves more frequent airing, and it is to be hoped that Pletnev and his Russian forces help raise awareness of this. The soloists are superb (Mescheriakova is particularly impressive), but the real star is the Moscow State Chamber Choir. This is a worthy companion to Pletnev's accounts of Rachmaninov orchestral works. Sergei Taneyev is a composer who should be more widely appreciated. Too often castigated in the textbooks for being overly academic, his works nevertheless demonstrate a freshness of invention which has immediate appeal. The cantata John of Damascus is something of a find. The Russian National Orchestra creates a superbly chilly atmosphere in the first movement, and once again the choir triumphs with fervent singing which conveys real belief in the quality of this music. The Bells ranks as a fine modern performance, but it is the Taneyev which might prove most fascinating. --Colin Clarke

Product Description

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hypnotic 21 Sep 2005
By Colin C
Format:Audio CD
If you haven't come across 'The Bells' before, then don't delay. It was of course Rachmaninov's favourite of his own works, and it's certainly a departure from the better known Piano Concertos. The same richness and melodic brilliance is here, but the final movement Lento Lugubre in particular is very, very dark.
This recording is flawless and the release also contains the texts of the works which renders them far more accessible. The only criticism I would make is that Pletnev's interpretation is just slightly too glossy. For the ultimate creaking, terrifying, mysterious sounding version of this work, the Kondrashin archive recording on Melodiya has more atmosphere to it. As that, however, is hard to find, this one will do very nicely as a modern benchmark.
Recommended.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dutoit or Pletnev? 19 Mar 2011
By Ralph Moore TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
While the classic recording of this wonderfully kaleidoscopic piece might be the old Kondrashin on Melodiya, if you want modern digital sound you are likely to go for either of these two - although the couplings might heavily influence your decision.

In brief, Pletnev has the more sumptuous sound and takes a more intense, measured approach to Rachmaninov's similarly rich, layered score, while Dutoit has slightly leaner sound and is sharper and more propulsive in his interpretation - yet their timings are identical for the second Lento movement. My feeling is that Dutoit has the better overview, presenting the four movements as a true symphony whereas Pletnev brings greater impact to key moments such as the great choral outburst at "Skov" in that second "golden bells" section.

Regarding the choirs, the Philadelphians almost convince us of their ability to suggest Russian authenticity; they are a bigger outfit than the Moscow State Chamber Choir who, while obviously Russian in their attack and depth of tone, are very slightly underpowered by comparison but compensate for lack of sheer weight with more pointed underlining of the words. There is less clarity and definition in the singing of Dutoit's choir - which might also be an effect of a more blurred sound in the engineering and in the third, purely choral movement, of Dutoit's option for the denser vocal arrangement.

Dutoit has more conventional, neater-voiced soloists: Kaludov is decidedly more ingratiating of tone than the grainy, rough-voiced Larin but the latter is more characterful. Both sopranos are the real deal, making a voluminous Russian sound, but Mescheriakova, although just a little clumsy, is more exciting than the more delicate, nuanced Pendachanska.
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Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  8 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dutoit or Pletnev? 19 Mar 2011
By Ralph Moore - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
While the classic recording of this wonderfully kaleidoscopic piece might be the old Kondrashin on Melodiya, if you want modern digital sound you are likely to go for either of these two - although the couplings might heavily influence your decision.

In brief, Pletnev has the more sumptuous sound and takes a more intense, measured approach to Rachmaninov's similarly rich, layered score, while Dutoit has slightly leaner sound and is sharper and more propulsive in his interpretation - yet their timings are identical for the second Lento movement. My feeling is that Dutoit has the better overview, presenting the four movements as a true symphony whereas Pletnev brings greater impact to key moments such as the great choral outburst at "Skov" in that second "golden bells" section.

Regarding the choirs, the Philadelphians almost convince us of their ability to suggest Russian authenticity; they are a bigger outfit than the Moscow State Chamber Choir who, while obviously Russian in their attack and depth of tone, are very slightly underpowered by comparison but compensate for lack of sheer weight with more pointed underlining of the words. There is less clarity and definition in the singing of Dutoit's choir - which might also be an effect of a more blurred sound in the engineering and in the third, purely choral movement, of Dutoit's option for the denser vocal arrangement.

Dutoit has more conventional, neater-voiced soloists: Kaludov is decidedly more ingratiating of tone than the grainy, rough-voiced Larin but the latter is more characterful. Both sopranos are the real deal, making a voluminous Russian sound, but Mescheriakova, although just a little clumsy, is more exciting than the more delicate, nuanced Pendachanska. Both are very good indeed, just as are both celebrated the Russian baritones; Leiferkus has the more dangerous edge in his tone and Chernov the more beautiful voice.

Pletnev's unusual choice of coupling in Taneyev's John of Damascus might be a deciding factor for some. It is a very grand, noble choral composition, fusing Russian folk and liturgical music with strict counterpoint in the style of Bach; the concluding fugue is exciting in its own right and much more than a mere academic exercise. The chance to own and hear this might prove more attractive than Dutoit's more predictable coupling with what is arguably some of Rachmaninov's less striking choral writing. This, in combination with richer sound and Pletnev's greater depth of feeling, inclines me to the DG disc.
9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rachmaninovs greatest work 22 April 2002
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
This is an extraordanary album.
Pletnev, orchestra, choir, singers and soundengineers gives you a wonderful, enjoyable moment listening to this masterpiece.
It starts like a happy birth with joyful cheerish song and ends up... well it is done after a poem by Edgar Allan Poe so... but anyway... if you like russian singing at its BEST and a GREAT piece dont hesitate to buy this and the filler...
... Taneyev is more than a filler and by that I mean it is VERY good
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Probably the best choice, for now 14 May 2010
By Santa Fe Listener - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Mikhail Pletnev enjoyed a honeymoon with Western listeners around the time of the emergence of the new Russia, putting together a polished orchestra that was like a breath of fresh air compared to the usual crude Soviet ensemble. But he was overpraised as a conductor, perhaps as an afterglow from his superlative piano playing. This 2001 account of The Bells from 2001 was the capstone of his Rachmaninov cycle. It offers refined orchestral work, excellent vocal soloists, a smallish but superior chorus, and a blessed lack of Soviet punch and crudeness. This last point is especially important. The composer was the epitome of a White Russian aristocrat, in no way a Red Russian comrade. He felt much closer to the French Symbolistes than to a Siberian potato commune.

We spent decades hearing his exquisite "choral symphony" from 1913 filtered through a hearty, at times bombastic sensibility. Pletnev reverses that misrepresentation. The Bells is very difficult to bring off. It requires, without a doubt, a Russian chorus and soloists. Each movement has its own mood, roughly following Poe's four-part poem. In the original, the bells are tinkly and silver, then golden and joyous, brazen and terrifying, and finally iron and demonic. Rachmaninov keeps to this ground plan fairly roughly, transposing the four moods into the ages of man from birth to death. It's a viable adaptation, and he conjures something of Poe's eerie aestheticism and perverse love of death in the finale, which defies convention by being very slow. The rest has little relationship to Poe's versification and unique sound world.

Rachmaninov put his ultimate skill as an orchestrator into this work, in keeping with two other choral symphonies, Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde and Zemlinsky's Lyric Sym., both triumphs of orchestration. It is also as sumptuous as its kin, and perhaps more coloristic than either. We are lounging in a purple haze, voluptuously bathed in Rachmaninov's slithery harmonies. I cannot fault the notable Russian tenor, Sergei Larin, or the equally impressive baritone, Vladimir Chernov, whose appearances in the first and last movement are more important than the soprano's in the second movement, where Marina Mescheriakova is lovely but not entirely memorable. The chamber chorus sings strongly, and although Pletnev has chosen the simplified alternative score for the Scherzo, I don't feel a huge loss (the Gramophone critic did).

In the end, there's something a bit too safe about Pletnev's direction. We still need for a Gergiev, Petrenko, or Jurowski to do full justice to this elusive yet very beautiful work. Petnev's illustrious predecessors, Svetlanov and Kondrahsin, produced readings in the Soviet mold and were given bad Soviet-era sound. Among Western recordings, the Decca one with Ashkenazy looks promising and features a sterling solo from Tom Krause in the finale, but the conducting is disjointed and ham-handed by turns. No, Pletnev will have to do for now while we wait to see if someone can expose The Bells as an unblemished masterpiece.
8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five stars are not enough 3 July 2004
By Penhoet - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
For some reason I didn't listen to this disc for a very long time after receiving it but once I started listening I could not stop. Whether this music is typical Rakhmaninov or atypical I cannot say. There are some aspects of the harmony and orchestration that are Rakhmaninov trademarks but it's hard to say whether one could listen to the music without knowing who wrote it and immediately guess that it was Rakhmaninov. Perhaps it's because Rakhmaninov is best known for his piano and orchestral works that the choral aspect throws one off the scent. In any case, this is one of Rakhmaninov's most beautiful and moving works. You don't have to know Russian to appreciate it though it does help; the inclusion of the transliterated text allows you to follow along phonetically if you wish though I would also have appreciated the original Cyrillic text. The mood and orchestral colour clearly transmit the atmosphere of each movement, whether that be the rushing of the sleighs, the panic of the alarm bells, or the gloom of the funeral bells. I'm tempted to ask why this work is not in the standard repertoire but it's pretty obvious that the Russian text makes it less accessible to Western singers and audiences. Still, this is unquestionably one of the greatest works of the 20th Century and should be more often played. Magnificent recording!
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The darkness of "John of Damascus" is on to me... 30 Dec 2005
By Eric S. Kim - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
When I heard the first thirty seconds of Sergei Taneyev's John of Damascus, I was hooked. It is such a dark and melodic piece from a man who certainly needs to be more well-known than Tchaikovsky. The overall power and emotion of this "Russian Requiem" is quite powerful and magnificient, and the third (final) movement is both exciting and tragic at the same time.

I agree with those who believe that "John of Damascus" is more than just a filler (Yes, The Bells by Rachmaninov is certainly fabulous here). Pletnev knows how to deal with a dark cantata like this; the orchestra and choir give all their might in just twenty-two minutes.

All in all, both Rachmaninov and Taneyev have equal importance here. But buy this CD especially for Damascus.
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