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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quite simply superb.
There is criticism of this performance here, but I must say I do not agree with it. This orchestra is made up of principals from other professional Russian orchestras, and it shows in their playing. Put simply, it is very unusual to hear all the notes played as the composer intended. Technically this is very fine playing indeed and I hear none of the detachment which...
Published 11 months ago by The Mad Latvian

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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not Pletnev's best by a long way.
I had high hopes for this recording but it ultimately comes in well down the list of contenders.

Rachmaninov's score is one of his most detailed and considered works. His intentions are clear on every page and all the articulations have a clear purpose. It is one of a group of orchestral works including the Isle of the Dead and the 3rd Piano Concerto all...
Published on 25 May 2008 by dvimus


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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not Pletnev's best by a long way., 25 May 2008
This review is from: Rachmaninov: Symphony No.2 (Audio CD)
I had high hopes for this recording but it ultimately comes in well down the list of contenders.

Rachmaninov's score is one of his most detailed and considered works. His intentions are clear on every page and all the articulations have a clear purpose. It is one of a group of orchestral works including the Isle of the Dead and the 3rd Piano Concerto all written during the same period in which Rachmaninov honed his skill as an orchestrator to the extent he was as adept writing for an orchestra as he was for the piano. My review is written with this background.

Problems occur throughout the first movement which for all its apparrent virtuoso performance comes across as curiously detached. Rhythmical details, orchestral balance and Pletnev's rather fast overall tempo cause a myriad of niggling things. Nothing big in anyone of them, but collectively they leave the feeling something is missing. The big concern however really set in at the Meno Mosso after Fig 13. This is taken way too fast and results in Pletnev making the next quick section quicker still, and quicker than marked as well. The result is a messy rendering of rhythms and articulation throughout the orchestra. Semiquavers are played no different to triplet quavers which, considering the detail Rachmaninov put into his score is simply unacceptable. Details in rhythm right, left and centre are ignored in the headlong rush. There is also a quite ugly bit of over playing in the first trumpet in the climax before Fig 19. Yuk. The recap does little more than play itself itself out repeating many of the earlier drawbacks and there is certainly a feeling of "so what" when the movement has finished.

The second movement is perhaps the most sucessful. Pletnev's control here is better for the most part and his choice of tempos leave his players some room to play their best. The same cannot be said about the Adagio which is again taken very quickly. The peace and repose that Previn and principal clarinet Jack Brymer managed to bring is in short supply here. Rachmaninov's tempo is 50 beats a minute, yet Pletnev starts at 60, a significant difference and it shows to the detriment of the performance. Not content Pletnev steams ahead making a large and unmarked accelerando through Fig 50-51. Rhythmical detail counts for nothing and the many precise details Rachmaninov puts on so many notes go unnoticed. The balancing of the brass chords are far from good here, not that they are particularly well handled elsewhere.

The tempo of the finale is too fast and it shows in several ways. The first is that the detail of articulation suffers and it all comes out as general wash of E major or whatever chord rather than a focused chord. The fast climbing runs are seriously flawed in this respect. The second is that the playing dynamic range is slightly more limited and this can most clearly be heard in the strings which have clearly had to be miked up a notch or two thus distorting the balance. It also causes a few ensemble problems in the principal tune heard at the end of the movement. [Fig. 87] When compared to Previn's LSO string section at the same points, there is clearly no contest. The LSO section work as a team far better than the Russians strings do here and there is real passion for this music in the LSO section. The Russian orchestra here sound relatively workaday. Lastly, there are places like Fig 84 where Pletnev simply rushes. It is the sort of thing a student conductor would be pulled up for and admonished in no uncertain terms. In respect of orchestral playing it just sounds undisciplined and is simply unacceptable at any professional level.

Pletnev does not help matters in the finale by constantly underplaying the importance of the first beat of bars and more particularly the start of phrases. The result is a rather uncomfortable shift of emphasis onto the second beat of the bar which causes a serious lack of rhythmic cohesion in the more densely orchestrated sections. Considering that so many second beats have an accent placed on them by the composer this means they have nothing as such to bounce off and instead in auditory terms, start to assume role of first beats. There is no way that this phrasing was ever intended by Rachmaninov, so it is difficult to see why Pletnev has worked his orchestra so hard to achieve it. It is completely counter-productive and seriously detracts from the performance. The achievement, if there is one, is playing at Pletnev's speed without coming completely adrift.

All of which comes as an anticlimax considering how impressive Pletnev's reading of the 1st and 3rd symphonies are. The fine performance of The Rock does make amends in some ways, but this is a minor work when compared with the symphony and is unlikely to be the reason for purchasing this disc. My preference remains with Previn and the LSO who recorded one of the finest performances of this work back in 1973. When played after the Pletnev it hits all the right points that Pletnev misses.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quite simply superb., 2 Sep 2013
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This review is from: Rachmaninov: Symphony No.2 (Audio CD)
There is criticism of this performance here, but I must say I do not agree with it. This orchestra is made up of principals from other professional Russian orchestras, and it shows in their playing. Put simply, it is very unusual to hear all the notes played as the composer intended. Technically this is very fine playing indeed and I hear none of the detachment which other reviewers mention. They have a very Russian sound with incredible discipline. The recording is also magnificent. I have about ten versions of this wonderful symphony on various formats, and this one is amongst the best of them. Very highly recommended indeed, and at 1p plus postage it is an incredible bargain!
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Dramatic, but it doesn't reach me, 5 Aug 2011
By 
Per Arne Rudberg "P-A Rudberg" (Vallentuna, Sweden) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Rachmaninov: Symphony No.2 (Audio CD)
I discovered Rachmaninov through his piano concerts. This symphony is not far away in style, sometimes sounding as film music. But it's deep, dramatic and even dark.
Pletnev and his Russian musicians are giving it a lot of deep colour and power. But it doesn't touch me.
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2 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 10 Aug 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Rachmaninov: Symphony No.2 (Audio CD)
Pletnev's tempos are exactly what is required and he captures the essence of this Russian music.
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Rachmaninov: Symphony No.2
Rachmaninov: Symphony No.2 by Rachmaninov (Audio CD - 2010)
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