The atmosphere evoked of by Arnold Böcklin's painting Isle of the Dead is captured perfectly in Rachmaninov's symphonic poem. The emotional intensity of Pletnev's performance with the RNO has in my opinion never been (and probably never will be) surpassed. The way the strings sigh as the shrouded figure is ferried to his final resting place, the yearning for past life in the agonising climaxes, the final acceptance of death in the closing bars, cut straight through to the heart of the listener.
I have listened to other highly rated interpretations (for example Ashkenazy with the RCO), but for me, none come close to this one. Also the sound and recording quality are excellent, one of the best from DG.
As for the the Symphony no.1, I haven't much to say because it is not one of my favourite pieces. No doubt a fine performance for those who like the work.
Finally, I am not alone in my praise. The CD was awarded a rosette by the Penguin Classical CD guide. This CD is worth its price for Isle of the Dead alone. The added bonus is that the cover illustration is of the painting that inspired the music, in my view essential for the complete experience.