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Rachmaninov: Symphonic Dances; Isle of the Dead; The Rock

Vasily Petrenko Audio CD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
Price: 16.86 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Vasily Petrenko was born in 1976 and started his music education at the St Petersburg Capella Boys Music School – the oldest music school in Russia. He then studied at the St Petersburg Conservatoire and has also participated in masterclasses with such major figures as Ilya Musin, Mariss Jansons, Yuri Temirkanov and Esa-Pekka Salonen. Between 1994 and 1997, Petrenko was Resident ... Read more in Amazon's Vasily Petrenko Store

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Rachmaninov: Symphonic Dances; Isle of the Dead; The Rock + Rachmaninov: Symphony No.2 + Rachmaninov: Symphony No 3
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Product details

  • Orchestra: Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Conductor: Vasily Petrenko
  • Composer: Sergei Rachmaninoff
  • Audio CD (2 Feb 2010)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Avie
  • ASIN: B002ZEDOFW
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 29,794 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Samples
Song TitleArtist Time Price
Listen  1. Symphonic Dances Op. 45 I Non allegroRoyal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra11:38Album Only
Listen  2. Symphonic Dances Op. 45 II Andante con moto (Tempo di valse)Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra10:03Album Only
Listen  3. Symphonic Dances Op. 45 III Lento assai - Allegro vivaceRoyal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra14:16Album Only
Listen  4. The Isle of the Dead, Op. 29Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra21:08Album Only
Listen  5. The Rock, Op. 7Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra13:01Album Only


Product Description

Product Description

Avie's tenth release with the RLPO and third with their music director Vasily Petrenko, is the first in a series of orchestral works and concerti by Rachmaninov.

Avie's fruitful association with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra yields its tenth release, and the third with Vasily Petrenko, the youngest Music Director in the RLPO's illustrious history and winner of the Classic FM/Gramophone Young Artist of the Year award in 2007. A native of St. Petersburg, Petrenko appropriately continues his exploration of Russian repertoire with the first in a series of orchestral works and concerti by Rachmaninov.

Critical acclaim:
"The Liverpudlians could easily be mistaken for a crack Russian orchestra - the key ingredient is the commitment of the playing, the sense of an orchestra at its peak." - Financial Times

"Everybody wants Vasily Petrenko, the blond, galvanising young Russian who, in two years as principal conductor, has transformed the artistic profile of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. Feel that crackle of electricity...the orchestra's ensemble spirit is so tight that you could cut yourself on the music's edges." - The Times

Product Description

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra - Vasily Petrenko, direction

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another homerun for Mr. P 1 Mar 2010
Format:Audio CD
Reviewing the disc in November last year of the "Symphonic Dances" and "The Isle of the Dead" made by the LPO and Vladimir Jurowski, I gave high praise to the treatment of "The Isle" but politely requested a tad more darkness and drama in the danses. Et voila, Vasily Petrenko scrambles to the rescue providing just what the doctor ordered. These years the RLPO just seems to go from strength to strength, and still in this new recording the players really manage to out-do themselves. A first class musical communicator, Petrenko infuses this provincial orchestra with the searing fire of his intensely Russian spirit - a thing so crusially important to the works of Rachmaninov - conjuring up a sound that rings genuinely true.

From the first notes of the essentially sunny first Symphonic Dance it is obvious that this is a reading dominated by the darker hues of the musical palette, which, quite apart from suiting the music well, lends an added beauty and nobility to all three dances. The Petrenko hallmark of the second dance is a highly volatile rubato that I doubt is hinted at in the score, but which, upon closer inspection, I find quite endearing and somehow more Russian than the classic approach. In the third dance the midnight bell has well and truly tolled, and only those long devoid of life are left to do the dancing. And what a ballet we are given! Here and there the tone is positively menacing and the wavy centre section, in all its splendour, is as icy as a Siberian winter wind. The parallels to Berlioz' witches' sabbath of the Symphonie Fantastique are more than usually clear - and not just through the use of the Dies Irae motive.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A stupendous disc 6 Mar 2010
By Ralph Moore TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Audio CD
As the Santa Fe listener kindly acknowledges in his review on Amazon.com, I recently blind-tested ten versions of the "Isle of the Dead" for another classical review website.

I was initially daunted by the task, but in the event I have to say that I found it both remarkably enjoyable and remarkably reassuring how easily I was able to decide upon a hierarchy of quality - and this one easily came out on top. I was delighted when my suspicions were confirmed that my favourite was indeed this recording by Petrenko; it is extraordinary how good the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic now sounds under their trio of distinguished conductors (Pesek, Mackerras and Petrenko himself) and for me this disc becomes one of the finest on my shelves.

The opening of the "Isle of the Dead" is crucial: a mood of grim inevitability must grip the listener, who should see and hear Charon's oars dip steadily, in relentless 5/8 time, into the black waters of the Styx, as per the mysterious painting by Arnold Böcklin. Rachmaninov saw it in 1907 and it inspired him to compose his musical evocation the following year. If the rhythm is too fleet and the craft drifts unsteadily, the requisite mood is lost. While this piece is episodic, with identifiable interludes as the soul reminisces and struggles to make sense of its fate, there must be an over-arching sense of shape to unify the experience; some of the performances in the ten I listened to fall into the trap of stressing transient drama at the expense of musical unity, while others simply fail rise above a timid fidelity to the score and deliver no punch at crucial points.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
My reference recording for the Symphonic Dances and The Isle of Dead are Ashkenazy's wonderful recording with the Concertgebouw Orchestra on Decca form the 1980s. That recording, from the decade they only just started recording digitally in the Concertgebouw, is super special. It has a weight even this new recording by Petrenko and the absolutely stunning Royal Liverpool Philharmonic doesn't bring. Listen to the first bars. With Petrenko you get a huge climax with the entry of timpani and bass drum and it's repeats. With Ashkenazy you get that overwhelming extra only the Concertgebouw hall can bring. Deep, very deep bass on the bass drum, physically exciting timpani right into your face. So it sounds as if the Concertgebouw orchestra is weightier, mightier and just straight right into the music and it seems the Liverpudlians do need some more time to adjust to Rachmaninov's sound world.
But that's not so; this interpretation is just as good, great, overwhelming and interesting as Ashkenazy's. I wonder `how should the Concertgebouw orchestra sound like in the Liverpool Philharmonic hall'? The reverberation the Liverpool orchestra gets in it's hall is markedly shorter than the Concertgebouw recording, that too gives the impression the Liverpudlians do play with lesser violin players, but I think that's isn't at all true. It just the recording - which is praised everywhere - that gives this impression.
With The Isle of Death it's the same thing; everything the Liverpool orchestra does is magnificent, the rocking of the waves, the grumblings deep down in the orchestra: stunning. But listening after that to the Concertgebouw recording again gives the same impression as with the dances. It seems somewhat thinner, but it isn't.
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Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars  10 reviews
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another homerun for Mr. P 1 Mar 2010
By Steen Mencke - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Reviewing the disc in November last year of the "Symphonic Dances" and "The Isle of the Dead" made by the LPO and Vladimir Jurowski, I gave high praise to the treatment of "The Isle" but politely requested a tad more darkness and drama in the danses. Et voila, Vasily Petrenko scrambles to the rescue providing just what the doctor ordered. These years the RLPO just seems to go from strength to strength, and still in this new recording the players really manage to out-do themselves. A first class musical communicator, Petrenko infuses this provincial orchestra with the searing fire of his intensely Russian spirit - a thing so crusially important to the works of Rachmaninov - conjuring up a sound that rings genuinely true.

From the first notes of the essentially sunny first Symphonic Dance it is obvious that this is a reading dominated by the darker hues of the musical palette, which, quite apart from suiting the music well, lends an added beauty and nobility to all three dances. The Petrenko hallmark of the second dance is a highly volatile rubato that I doubt is hinted at in the score, but which, upon closer inspection, I find quite endearing and somehow more Russian than the classic approach. In the third dance the midnight bell has well and truly tolled, and only those long devoid of life are left to do the dancing. And what a ballet we are given! Here and there the tone is positively menacing and the wavy centre section, in all its splendour, is as icy as a Siberian winter wind. The paralleles to Berlioz' witches' sabbath of the Symphonie Fantastique are more than usually clear - and not just through the use of the Dies Irae motive. The music radiates a meticulously controled intensity I have rarely come upon before, providing a tour de force that I doubt will be trumped any time soon.

Petrenko's reading of the "Isle of the Dead" is on a par with Jurowski's, the slow beginning perhaps even a touch more ominous in its silky mesmerism, and though no punches are pulled in the struggle between light and darkness of the crescendo, like Jurowski Petrenko never allows it to deteriorate into the bar room brawl I often found in other recordings. The athmosphere of the inspirational painting by Arnold Böchlin is there in all its colour - though I understand the version of the picture Rachmaninov saw back in 1909 and took to heart was in fact in black and white. What an imagination!

"The Rock", written in 1894 when the composer was barely 21, is a setting of Chekhov's "Na puti" (On the Road), depicting an encounter between a young girl and an old man, who, before they part never to meet again, relates to the girl the sad story of his life. It is clearly a work of youth, but, like all of Rachmaninov's music, masterly orchestrated and given a warm and sympathetic reading by the Liverpool team.

Technically this is without a doubt the finest Petrenko issue so far. The sound is both supple and full, with kettledrum fff's that'll put cracks in your furniture, yet clear and sharply defined without a hint of distortion or restrictions of volume (unlike his two discs of Shostakovich symphonies). Full marks to the recording engineers.

Great value at a very reasonable price.
17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A stupendous disc 6 Mar 2010
By Ralph Moore - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
As the Santa Fe listener kindly acknowledges in his review, I recently blind-tested ten versions of the "Isle of the Dead" for another classical review website.

I was initially daunted by the task, but in the event I have to say that I found it both remarkably enjoyable and remarkably reassuring how easily I was able to decide upon a hierarchy of quality - and this one easily came out on top. I was delighted when my suspicions were confirmed that my favourite was indeed this recording by Petrenko; it is extraordinary how good the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic now sounds under their trio of distinguished conductors (Pesek, Mackerras and Petrenko himself) and for me this disc becomes one of the finest on my shelves.

The opening of the "Isle of the Dead" is crucial: a mood of grim inevitability must grip the listener, who should see and hear Charon's oars dip steadily, in relentless 5/8 time, into the black waters of the Styx, as per the mysterious painting by Arnold Böcklin. Rachmaninov saw it in 1907 and it inspired him to compose his musical evocation the following year. If the rhythm is too fleet and the craft drifts unsteadily, the requisite mood is lost. While this piece is episodic, with identifiable interludes as the soul reminisces and struggles to make sense of its fate, there must be an over-arching sense of shape to unify the experience; some of the performances in the ten I listened to fall into the trap of stressing transient drama at the expense of musical unity, while others simply fail rise above a timid fidelity to the score and deliver no punch at crucial points.

Of the four I really liked, only one was compromised by the sound: Ansermet and l'Orchestre de la Suisse Romande are recorded in hissy, strident mono but theirs is a reading of such integrity and musicality that it transcends those limitations. However, if you want the finest modern sound, three are in a class apart, by virtue of their combination of sound quality and artistic achievement: Batiz on Naxos (see my review), the celebrated Ashkenazy version on Decca, and the one currently under review. They are clearly self-recommending and individual taste must be the arbiter of choice, although I have a clear personal favourite, and it is this Petrenko recording. (Some favour the famous Reiner/Chicago recording; it does not do it for me; my blind-listening notes read: "rushed, yet nerveless, like a hyperactive patient with a failing pulse. We scud sporadically over shallow waters. The orchestra suffers from poor intonation, especially in the woodwinds." Nor do I think he really delivers at climactic points.)

Petrenko achieves a miracle of interpretation and the disc is sonically superlative. Its timing (20:55), phrasing, control and understanding of the dynamic relationship between the disparate sections are all ideal. As much as I enjoyed the other three discs in my top category, this was the only one to give me genuine goose bumps as I listened. This is passionate, thrilling orchestral direction and playing, from the overwhelming tragedy of the soul's agony to the searing poignancy of the central section, full of yearning nostalgia for times past. Every mood is embraced from febrile panic to desperate regret; no other version manages this kind of range. When, in the music's closing stages, the hammer blows which seal the soul's fate yield to pitiless ticking of a universal clock, the effect is intensely dramatic and the listener is made to appreciate anew the wonder of this extraordinary composition.

The "Symphonic Dances" are equally thrilling: taut, intense and nervy, then suddenly lyrical and voluptuous; the sensibility of Rachmaninov the hyper-sensitive Russian Romantic is perfectly captured. "The Rock" might be a relatively immature work and was poorly received by the sniffy, parochial British critics when it was performed in London, but it remained a favourite of the composer all his life and instantly reveals his gift of manipulating swirling, Impressionistic colours even if there is an element of repetitiveness and some lack of invention in the variations. My only previous acquaintance with this work was the excellent Decca Eloquence disc of this and the ill-fated First Symphony with, once more, l'Orchestre de la Suisse Romande conducted by Walter Weller; this version here is obviously in superior sound and takes a sharper, snappier approach which perhaps papers over any longueurs without sacrificing its yearning quality.

If the stature of this recording is indicative of things to come, I am really looking forward to future issues by the same team - such as the new Rachmaninov Piano Concertos 2 & 3, with Trpceski, which I have now ordered and eagerly await (see my review).
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A striking success in some Rachmaninov chestnuts 28 Feb 2010
By Santa Fe Listener - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
Young Vasily Petrenko, now 33, is a darling of the critics, and rave reviews in the Gramophone have followed his every move on CD. At the moment there's a virtual Russian regime in the UK, with Gergiev acting as czar at the London Sym. but with a circle of shining young princes (boyars?) in Vladimir Jurowski at the London Philharmonic, the often riveting Andris Nelsons in Birmingham (to be precise, he's a Latvian and a protege of Mariss Jansons, a fellow Latvian), the Ukrainian Kirill Karabits in Bournemouth, and Petrenko in Liverpool. All are top notch in Russian music, but so far, I've found Petrenko variable, his main weakness being an absence of drama in favor of somewhat fussy detailing.

For someone who looks like a ginger-haired lad, his readings are often reticent rather than dazzling, but this Rachmaninov program begins with a Symphonic Dances that is riveting and dramatic, taking full advantage of the composer's luscious, gushing romanticism. The Liverpool orchestra lacks the brilliant soloists that the work showcases, but this reading is quite satisfying thanks to Petrenko's vital phrasing and sense of atmosphere. He reminds one of Ravel's La valse, that other dream -- or hallucination -- of the dance, which is high praise. The performance really takes off in the third movement, where a jittery, electric mood rivets one's attention. If you find other readings too showy and gaudy, Petrenko's will be very appealing. Naxos has reinvented itself as a label with first-rate artists and to-quality sound. The sound here could easily be from any major label, and it outshines most past recordings of this sparkling score.

Ralph Moore, an Amazon reviewer who happens to dote on the Isle of the Dead, recently picked this new Petrenko reading from a group of ten as his favorite -- all the more intriguing since he wasn't told who conducted any of the various versions. It's much less ponderous and gloomy than most other readings, and although the overhwelming impact of Reiner's famous recording on RCA isn't present, or the chicago Symphony's crushing virtuosity, Petrenko's evocation of Debussy is very appealing, especaiily if you consider this to be impressionistic music. We are wafted to the world of the shades rather than plunged in. By comparison, even notable readings by Previn and Ashkenazy seem lurid. At 21 min. the reading is broad, but Petrenko has no problem holding one's attention, and he impressively builds his slow-burning climax. About final selection, The Rock, I can't comment, not knowing the work except in passing, but the performance seems to have the same virtues as what came before.

In all, this arresting CD gives me hope that Petrenko can live up to the extravagant praise that as come his way so far.

P.S. 2012 - Now that I've heard him in concert and he has released half a dozen more CDs, it seems that Petrenko is a remarkable talent, leading the pack of conductors his age.

.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars HOLY $%*#!!!! Here are your new reference recordings! 31 Mar 2010
By Douglas S. Halfen - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Please pardon my enthusiasm above, but as a lover of both "Isle Of The Dead" and "Symphonic Dances" since my youth, I was absolutely _floored_ by this disc. The performances captured here are absolute tour-de-forces. In baseball terms, each is the equivalent of a 500'+ home run, and they sail far beyond _any_ of their competition.

Pride of place (and certificate of authenticity) should naturally go to Rachmaninov's own recording of "Isle..." with the Fabulous Philadelphians of yesteryear, but Petrenko and the RLPO outclass the maestro himself. Here, "Isle..." sounds as if it's conducted by Wagner at a darkened Bayreuth, with the Flying Dutchman on a course to duel with Hades himself. The experience is so intense and bracing as to beggar belief. Despite being almost three minutes longer than the composer's rendering, this performance appears to flow faster. (In contrast with Santa Fe listener, I consider this to be _the_ "plunging in" performance of the work; it has far too much fire & muscle to be Debussian!!! That description fits "The Rock," which is a lesser work, albeit quite lovely & enjoyable -- it hints of wonders to come, and the performance does full justice to those hints.)

"Symphonic Dances" approaches a lighter shade of dark, but it is no less powerful, simply more outrightly beautiful. The central movement, which usually bores me, is danced -- er, performed to perfection (one can hear the spirit of Tchaikovsky and a hint of Sibelius in this truly sympathetic reading), while the substantial bookends are full of verve and colour. The first movement is incandescent, while the third movement is particularly dramatic and closes with a mighty wallop.

Speaking of colour, I can honestly say that the transparency in these recordings is first-class; the amount of detail that is _easily_ hearable reminds me that Rachmaninov was an outstanding orchestrator, rivalled perhaps only by Wagner, Rimsky-Korsakov, Mahler, and Ravel. Petrenko, who makes some amazing decisions with tempi, uses the RLPO's forces to outstanding effect: the woodwinds positively glow, and the percussion booms. The brass is never blatty, and the strings do not oversaturate. The balances are impeccable. In a word: delicious!

My previous favourite recordings of these two pieces, by Ashkenazy and the Concertgebouw, have now been supplanted. Jansons, Svetlanov, Reiner, Batiz -- they all pass into the fold. Even the most recent competition from Jurowski isn't on the same level, and I had high hopes for that recording.

Bravo, Petrenko! One can only have great expectations for this young man; he's already crafted a "Classic for the Future" with this venture. (In fact, maybe he's done _too_ well -- this achievement shall be difficult to surpass.)
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A vigorous interpretation 26 April 2013
By John J. Puccio - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
It was a gutsy move for Avie to attempt a new recording of Rachmaninov's Symphonic Dances, given that there are already several outstanding recordings available. Among previously available accounts, Andre Previn's LSO rendition on EMI has long stood the test of time, and Eiji Oue's rendering with the Minnesota Orchestra on Reference Recordings is probably on every audiophile's shelf. Nevertheless, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic under conductor Vasily Petrenko make a good showing for themselves, and on sheer energy alone they may win the day.

In keeping with the vigor of the music, Avie provide the sonics with a prodigious dynamic range and impact.

John J. Puccio
Classical Candor
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