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Rachmaninov: Symphonic Dances, Stravinsky: Symphony in Three Movements (LSO/Gergiev) [Hybrid SACD]

Gergiev Audio CD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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V A L E R Y G E R G I E V

Valery Gergiev is internationally recognized as one of the most outstanding musical figures of his generation. His inspired leadership as Artistic and General Director of the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia, where he oversees the Kirov Orchestra, Ballet and Opera, has brought universal acclaim to this legendary institution. Together with the ... Read more in Amazon's Gergiev Store

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Rachmaninov: Symphonic Dances, Stravinsky: Symphony in Three Movements (LSO/Gergiev) + Ravel: Daphnis & Chloe, Bolero,  Pavane Pour Une Infante Defunte + Debussy: La Mer, Jeux, Prélude à l après-midi d un faune (LSO/Gergiev)
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Product details

  • Conductor: Valery Gergiev
  • Composer: Sergei Rachaninov, Igor Stravinsky
  • Audio CD (2 April 2012)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Hybrid SACD
  • Label: LSO Live
  • ASIN: B00713Y384
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 87,855 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Symphonic Dances - London Symphony Orchestra
2. Symphony in Three Movements - London Symphony Orchestra

Product Description

Product Description

Gergiev conducts a thrilling performance of the composer s 'Symphonic Dances', coupled with fellow emigré Stravinsky's Symphony in Three Movements. An orchestral suite in three sections, the 'Symphonic Dances' were the last works Rachmaninov completed and proved to be some of his most popular. Although rarely sentimental, they draw on folk idioms and the composer s reminiscences of Russia, from where he emigrated in 1917. Stravinsky s 'Symphony in Three Movements' was written between 1942-45 and was the first work Stravinsky completed after his arrival in the USA. Although he claimed it was a War Symphony , his true inspiration was typically vague. Following an extensive tour of the Far East with the LSO in February and March, Valery Gergiev conducts concerts throughout Europe in with the Mariinsky Orchestra, including performances in the UK. In May he conducts a festival of Stravinsky s music with the LSO in London.

Product Description

LSO 0688; LONDON SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA - Inghilterra; Classica Orchestrale

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Format:Audio CD
Anyone who was bowled over by Gergiev's last Rachmaninov release, a superb Sym. #2, will be eager for this new release, although both the symphony and the Symphonic Dances are in danger of being over-exposed quite a contrast from the days before the post-Soviet invasion of Russian conductors, when Eugene Ormandy was almost the only one to turn to. Now with Gergiev, Jurowski, and Petrenko firmly in place at the top of British-based conductors, we are getting the Russian classics as we've never heard them before, or at least not since the heyday of Mravinsky (who apparently didn't conduct Rachmaninov - white Russian antipathy?)

The refinement that Gergiev brings to all of this music, which is an antidote to the swaggering but crude Soviet way, runs the danger of gilding the lily. He is very deliberate and detailed in the first movement of the Symphonic Dances, and for every gain in color and nuance, there's a loss of energy and propulsion. Rachmaninov was a wonderful orchestrator - Hollywood would have hired him in a flash - so for anyone who already knows this score well, Gergiev's new version is a delight. But newcomers should know that there are approaches that have more swagger and jazziness. The recorded sound is very good, and the orchestral playing beyond compare. Just be prepared for grave emotions - who suspected that this score had such darkness? - and much self-conscious phrasing. Yet in its own way this is a transformative reading - a once-neglected masterpiece of post-Romanticism is made to glow with meaning.

Gergiev has been making up for another gap in Soviet music-making, the policy of ignoring Stravinsky's music after the three great ballets.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Format:Audio CD
If it's not a consensus that Valery Gergiev has brought new life to the British musical scene that hasn't been seen in decades, it should be. The LSO is attaining new heights, playing on a super-virtuoso level that isn't very far from their European rivals. Both Rachmaninov and Stravinsky are composers that seem well suited to Gergiev's temperament. Since Gergiev's Rachmaninov 2nd with the LSO was beyond compare, a new Rachmaninov release was cause for great anticipation from this listener.

Gergiev is often accused of being rushed and mechanical. These criticisms aren't entirely unwarranted, but comparing his timing in the Symphonic Dances to fellow-Russian Ashkenazy's, Gergiev is slower in every movement. Ashkenazy's classic account is light in tone and spirit with the playing of the Concertgebouw to dazzle the listener. Gergiev takes a more deliberate approach. The crashing chords at the opening of the first movement aren't just powerful, they're hammer blows. But that's not to say that his approach is a heavy-handed one. The thing that struck me that most was his ability to make the music sound fresh and effortless. These are dances and while Gergiev isn't balletic, he finds a way to give the music a spontaneity that is apt for dance music. Ashkenazy is perhaps more danceable than Gergiev, but the latter is more dark and Russian in texture. I sense direction, a feel for the overall flow of the work. Gergiev had few peers when he took over the LSO, but he's maturing. That is evidenced by the way he builds tension without letting go to soon, something particularly apparent at the closing of the final movement. For some, Ashkenazy's lightness will be preferred above Gergiev's brooding inspiration, but I think this recording is on a higher plane.
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars More dance, less symphonic 24 April 2012
By Entartete Musik TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Audio CD
The clue's in the title. Symphonic Dances. OK, so there are two clues... symphonic and dances. Do the two mix? Having thought that Valery Gergiev would emphasise the latter, the LSO's new recording of Rachmaninoff's 1940 masterpiece declares symphonic credentials. Portentous and a little dull, it overstates this nimble music. Even Stravinsky's mordant glance at symphonic heritage feels stodgy.

It's surprising given Gergiev considerable terpsichorean skill. His performances of Tchaikovsky's and Prokofiev's ballet scores are impassioned but delicate. Here, Rachmaninoff's ballet manqué is shown in a stodgy light. Rather than aggressive attack, the LSO clomps through the first movement. The more lyrical middle section ekes forward, but the transitions are week and the score feels disjointed.

The second and third dances fare better, though even here the wit of Rachmaninoff's late style is overburdened. When the sweeping waltz finally settles in, it is given a Rosenkavalier sheen, yet it would be even more luscious if cast in relief. For a truly bobbing performance, choose Ashkenazy and the Concertgebouw.

Gergiev returns to form in the ferocious and full-blooded opening to Stravinsky's Symphony in Three Movements. It has a instant capricious quality. The quick attack of the LSO strings and piano communicates wit at last. But it doesn't last long enough and the Andante lacks bounce. The final movement feels belaboured and po-faced, making for a disappointing recording. The LSO play well on their own terms, but Gergiev needs to lighten up.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  10 reviews
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gergiev lets these Russian masterpieces catch on fire, but it's his sense of direction that makes the day 10 April 2012
By Andrew R. Barnard - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
If it's not a consensus that Valery Gergiev has brought new life to the British musical scene that hasn't been seen in decades, it should be. The LSO is attaining new heights, playing on a super-virtuoso level that isn't very far from their European rivals. Both Rachmaninov and Stravinsky are composers that seem well suited to Gergiev's temperament. Since Gergiev's Rachmaninov 2nd with the LSO was beyond compare, a new Rachmaninov release was cause for great anticipation from this listener.

Gergiev is often accused of being rushed and mechanical. These criticisms aren't entirely unwarranted, but comparing his timing in the Symphonic Dances to fellow-Russian Ashkenazy's, Gergiev is slower in every movement. Ashkenazy's classic account is light in tone and spirit with the playing of the Concertgebouw to dazzle the listener. Gergiev takes a more deliberate approach. The crashing chords at the opening of the first movement aren't just powerful, they're hammer blows. But that's not to say that his approach is a heavy-handed one. The thing that struck me that most was his ability to make the music sound fresh and effortless. These are dances and while Gergiev isn't balletic, he finds a way to give the music a spontaneity that is apt for dance music. Ashkenazy is perhaps more danceable than Gergiev, but the latter is more dark and Russian in texture. I sense direction, a feel for the overall flow of the work. Gergiev had few peers when he took over the LSO, but he's maturing. That is evidenced by the way he builds tension without letting go to soon, something particularly apparent at the closing of the final movement. For some, Ashkenazy's lightness will be preferred above Gergiev's brooding inspiration, but I think this recording is on a higher plane.

We enter a different world when we cross over into the Stravinsky. The product of a composer trying to convince the world with his newfound polytonalities, the symphony is full of jagged edges. My Rattle account with the Berlin Philharmonic was full of unrivaled playing, but Rattle tried to smooth out the work's aggression and seemed to dawdle over every note and phrase, ultimately sounding mannered. Gergiev doesn't match Rattle's voicing abilities, but the absence of fussiness isn't missed. I don't sense that the work is being tamed; the LSO delivers even more bite than the Berliners. But Gergiev isn't out to be menacing either. He doesn't keep the music from sounding sarcastic and angry although I sense he's trying to show us Stravinsky's classicism. Some will be disappointed that Gergiev didn't let hell break loose but he's deeply committed. In fact, I'm not sure that jarring sounds are the main point of the symphony. Gergiev finds meaning in almost every bar, building momentum without losing the beauty of the individual moment. Ultimately this is a much more inspired reading than Rattle's, but I wouldn't have minded more aggressiveness.

It's incredible to witness sensational musicians at the height of their powers. Gergiev is continuing to establish his reputation as one of the most exciting conductors alive and this disc catches him in great spirits.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's great to couple these two works together. Solid performances too. 14 April 2012
By B. Guerrero - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
What a brilliant idea: fusing Rachmaninoff's greatest orchestral work to what is perhaps Stravinsky's best work from his lengthy 'neoclassical' period. These are fine performances too. In addition, for once, LSO Live has figured out how to make good sounding recordings from London's problematic Barbican hall. If you greatly like these two works (I love 'em), get this!

In the first movement of the "Symphonic Dances", Gergiev is a bit slower than normal. But he also emphasizes the rhythms and the 'cragginess' of what is so untypically like most of Rachmaninoff's orchestral writing - far more modern than usual. The swirling waltzes of the second movement are perfectly gauged, while Gergiev really drives the finale home in a hard-rock manner. He also doesn't slight the percussion at all - something that happens rather frequently with this work. In the end, we end up with a performance that is strong on contrasts, while also showing off its muscularity in a most brazen manner.

The "Symphony in Three Movements" also exhibits the same smartness and athleticism as the Rachmaninoff. I like how Gergiev takes the start of the finale a bit slower than usual (once again we get this effect), but also emphasizes Stravinsky's almost Picasso-like angularity in the process. The back half of the finale displays as much balletic jumping around as one could possibly wish for. I'm not a huge fan of everything that Gergiev does, but this disc is a complete winner.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gergiev lets these Russian masterpieces catch on fire, but it's his sense of direction that makes the day 3 April 2012
By Andrew R. Barnard - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
If it's not a consensus that Valery Gergiev has brought new life to the British musical scene that hasn't been seen in decades, it should be. The LSO is attaining new heights, playing on a super-virtuoso level that isn't very far from their European rivals. Both Rachmaninov and Stravinsky are composers that seem well suited to Gergiev's temperament. Since Gergiev's Rachmaninov 2nd with the LSO was beyond compare, a new Rachmaninov release was cause for great anticipation from this listener.

Gergiev is often accused of being rushed and mechanical. These criticisms aren't entirely unwarranted, but comparing his timing in the Symphonic Dances to fellow-Russian Ashkenazy's, Gergiev is slower in every movement. Ashkenazy's classic account is light in tone and spirit with the playing of the Concertgebouw to dazzle the listener. Gergiev takes a more deliberate approach. The crashing chords at the opening of the first movement aren't just powerful, they're hammer blows. But that's not to say that his approach is a heavy-handed one. The thing that struck me that most was his ability to make the music sound fresh and effortless. These are dances and while Gergiev isn't balletic, he finds a way to give the music a spontaneity that is apt for dance music. Ashkenazy is perhaps more danceable than Gergiev, but the latter is more dark and Russian in texture. I sense direction, a feel for the overall flow of the work. Gergiev had few peers when he took over the LSO, but he's maturing. That is evidenced by the way he builds tension without letting go to soon, something particularly apparent at the closing of the final movement. For some, Ashkenazy's lightness will be preferred above Gergiev's brooding inspiration, but I think this recording is on a higher plane.

We enter a different world when we cross over into the Stravinsky. The product of a composer trying to convince the world with his newfound polytonalities, the symphony is full of jagged edges. My Rattle account with the Berlin Philharmonic was full of unrivaled playing, but Rattle tried to smooth out the work's aggression and seemed to dawdle over every note and phrase, ultimately sounding mannered. Gergiev doesn't match Rattle's voicing abilities, but the absence of fussiness isn't missed. I don't sense that the work is being tamed; the LSO delivers even more bite than the Berliners. But Gergiev isn't out to be menacing either. He doesn't keep the music from sounding sarcastic and angry although I sense he's trying to show us Stravinsky's classicism. Some will be disappointed that Gergiev didn't let hell break loose but he's deeply committed. In fact, I'm not sure that jarring sounds are the main point of the symphony. Gergiev finds meaning in almost every bar, building momentum without losing the beauty of the individual moment. Ultimately this is a much more inspired reading than Rattle's, but I wouldn't have minded more aggressiveness.

It's incredible to witness sensational musicians at the height of their powers. Gergiev is continuing to establish his reputation as one of the most exciting conductors alive and this disc catches him in great spirits.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Grave, powerful readings of two masterpieces - a must-listen 7 April 2012
By Santa Fe Listener - Published on Amazon.com
Anyone who was bowled over by Gergiev's last Rachmaninov release, a superb Sym. #2, will be eager for this new release, although both the symphony and the Symphonic Dances are in danger of being over-exposed quite a contrast from the days before the post-Soviet invasion of Russian conductors, when Eugene Ormandy was almost the only one to turn to. Now with Gergiev, Jurowski, and Petrenko firmly in place at the top of British-based conductors, we are getting the Russian classics as we've never heard them before, or at least not since the heyday of Mravinsky (who apparently didn't conduct Rachmaninov - white Russian antipathy?)

The refinement that Gergiev brings to all of this music, which is an antidote to the swaggering but crude Soviet way, runs the danger of gilding the lily. He is very deliberate and detailed in the first movement of the Symphonic Dances, and for every gain in color and nuance, there's a loss of energy and propulsion. Rachmaninov was a wonderful orchestrator - Hollywood would have hired him in a flash - so for anyone who already knows this score well, Gergiev's new version is a delight. But newcomers should know that there are approaches that have more swagger and jazziness. The recorded sound is very good, and the orchestral playing beyond compare. Just be prepared for grave emotions - who suspected that this score had such darkness? - and much self-conscious phrasing. Yet in its own way this is a transformative reading - a once-neglected masterpiece of post-Romanticism is made to glow with meaning.

Gergiev has been making up for another gap in Soviet music-making, the policy of ignoring Stravinsky's music after the three great ballets. I've heard quite a number of Gergiev readings of the three symphonies (Symphony of Psalms, Symphony in C, and Symphony in Three Movements - some add a fourth, the Symphonies for Wind Instruments). His way with them is powerful and a great deal more visceral than anything Stravinsky conceived of - or condoned. The wartime Symphony in Three Movements is the bleakest of the three,and the period over which it was written, 1942-45, brought Western civilization into grave peril. Despite his surroundings historically, Stravinksy was following his own course musically, as geniuses will, so the score has another side, its almost cheery neoclassical chirping and skipping. Gergiev brings vitality to these parts, but he isn't as bright or sparkling as the composer himself or Ernest Ansermet among classic recordings from the past. Still, this is a beautifully conceived reading with absolutely wonderful playing and sound.
6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Grave, powerful readings of two masterpieces - a must-listen 12 April 2012
By Santa Fe Listener - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Anyone who was bowled over by Gergiev's last Rachmaninov release, a superb Sym. #2, will be eager for this new one, although both the symphony and the Symphonic Dances are in danger of being over-exposed, quite a contrast from the days before the post-Soviet invasion of Russian conductors, when Eugene Ormandy and Andre Previn were the best to turn to. Now with Gergiev, Jurowski, and Petrenko firmly in place at the top of British-based conductors, we are getting the Russian classics as we've never heard them before, or at least not since the heyday of Mravinsky (who apparently didn't conduct Rachmaninov - was it White Russian antipathy in a dedicated Soviet artist?)

The refinement that Gergiev brings to all of this music, which is an antidote to the swaggering but crude Soviet stereotype, runs the danger of gilding the lily. He is very deliberate and detailed in the first movement of the Symphonic Dances, and for every gain in color and nuance, there's a loss of energy and propulsion. Rachmaninov was a wonderful orchestrator - Hollywood would have hired him in a flash - so for anyone who already knows this score well, Gergiev's new version is a delight. But newcomers should know that there are other approaches that have more pace and jazziness. The recorded sound is very good, and the orchestral playing beyond reproach. Just be prepared for grave emotions - who suspected that this score had such darkness? - and much self-conscious phrasing. Yet in its own way this is a transformative reading - a once-neglected masterpiece of post-Romanticism is made to glow with meaning.

Gergiev has been making up for another gap in Soviet music-making, the policy of ignoring Stravinsky's compositions after the great early ballets from the Firebird to the Rite of Spring. I've heard quite a number of Gergiev's concert readings of the three symphonies (Symphony of Psalms, Symphony in C, and Symphony in Three Movements - some add a fourth, the Symphonies for Wind Instruments). His way with them is powerful and a great deal more visceral than anything Stravinsky conceived of - or condoned. The wartime Symphony in Three Movements is the bleakest of the three,and the period over which it was written, 1942-45, brought Western civilization into grave peril. Despite his surroundings historically, Stravinksy was following his own course musically, as geniuses will, so the score has another side, its almost cheery neoclassical chirping and skipping. Gergiev brings vitality to these parts, but he isn't as bright or sparkling as the composer himself or Ernest Ansermet among classic recordings from the past. Still, this is a beautifully conceived reading with absolutely wonderful playing and vivid sound.

P.S. - The Gramophone didn't "get" this CD, to say the least, and thoroughly panned the Rachmaninov. Actually, I can see why, since Gergiev defies expectations. The reviewer couldn't miss the high quality of the Stravinsky, however.
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