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48 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rachmaninov - The master orchestrator & melodist., 14 Feb 2009
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This review is from: Rachmaninov: The Symphonies etc. (Audio CD)
I have many recordings of Rachmaninov's Orchestral works, including archive recordings with the composer performing, or conducting, but as I was fortunate enough to play for Ashkenazy when he first started conducting I had to hear his interpretation of a fellow Russian genius.
Like all conductors, apart from Rachmaninov himself, Askenazy allows the music to be sentimental in places, and in fact at times it can be a wallow. It is always done with heartfelt sincerity, and his command of the not inconsiderable orchestral resources the composer writes for is masterly - most of the time! Just occasionally Vlad's emotional and enthusiastic musicality gets the better of his stick technique. This, howeve, is a fine collection of Rachmaninov's 'big' orchestral output in one package, and arguably the finest performances of some of the works; notably 'The Bells', the Symphonic Dances, and the 3rd Symphony.
The Concertgebow play with fire, warmth, and a total involvment. If you are 'into' Rachmaninov then you should not miss this CD.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An impressive collection of Rachmaninov's largest orchestral works, 27 Jun 2013
By 
I. Giles (Argyll, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Rachmaninov: The Symphonies etc. (Audio CD)
This 3 disc set draws together recordings previously spaced across five separate discs. Very careful comparisons between those original discs and the ones in the boxed set suggest a modest remastering over what were very good recordings in the first place. There is now a touch more ambient warmth, clarity and general 'presence.' There is also considerably more music supplied on fewer discs.

Ashkenazy brings a generally faster and more exciting approach to there works than many others with tautly controlled rhythmical impetus and much orchestral detail. There is an unmistakable 'Russian' feel to these performances with that emotional excitement taken close to the edge. The Dutch orchestra deliver all of these demands in ways that are not usually associated with this orchestra. They sound inspired and probably were. Their commitment to Ashkenazy's vision is obvious.

All three numbered symphonies gain considerably from this approach and it is arguable that there have never been finer performances of either the first or third symphony. Certainly the first is far more emotionally involving than Previn's for instance and the third is equally far more involving than the admired but cooler version by Jansons. Previn offers much stronger competition in his very fine recording of the third symphony. When it comes to the second symphony there is much more choice for collectors and the newly remastered version by Previn certainly deserves its status as a classic. However Ashkenazy makes far more of the brass in particular than Previn's string dominated reading. Ashkenazy also drives faster and harder and there is more physical excitement here which many will prefer.

The Symphonic Dances were seen by Svetlanov as Rachmaninov's fourth symphony in disguise. It is an interesting point of view and certainly they are symphonic in scale as their title suggests. Both those and the Isle of the Dead are amongst the very finest ever recorded, even including the famous, and now well restored, Reiner version of the Isle.

The Bells was seen by Rachmaninov as a choral symphony and this is a fine performance too. However there is lots to be said for the equally fine performance with Bychkov on DVD with excellent surround sound and, especially, with subtitles that give precise meaning to the sung words. This is an invaluable aid to those who are not fluent Russian speakers. That double DVD also includes excellent performances of the Dances and the second symphony plus a detailed documentary describing and explaining the Bells.

In conclusion I would suggest that this set by Ashkenazy of these works is of such quality as to dominate the market for its contents. However I would also suggest that there is much to be gained by supplementing this boxed set with the double DVD by Bychkov which will greatly aid understanding of the Bells as well as delivering excellent performances in excellent sound and vision of the second symphony and the Symphonic Dances.

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I thought that you might like to know that before I buy a recording I now look through all the reviews to see if you have posted one. Your assessments and opinions are invaluable. Thank you. (US review)

I particularly like your format of review. They give the prospective purchaser an idea of the style of the playing and relevant comparisons. They are succinct. Keep up the good work! (UK review)

I'm sure there are many other serious collectors, besides myself, who wait for your synopsis and opinion before spending their hard-earned money on new releases...
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Great Collection, 9 April 2010
By 
Mr. John R. Drew "analog" (Melbourne Australia) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Rachmaninov: The Symphonies etc. (Audio CD)
I recently heard a live performance of Racmaninov's "The Bells" conducted by Vladimir Ashkenazy. This was a work I did not have, and in fact, had never heard it. The opportunity to get the work conducted by the same Conductor could not be missed,
Askenazy tends to take Rachmaninov faster than others, but I think that may be an advantage. Certainly the Symphonic Dances is the most exciting performance of that music I have heard, and the Symphonies are excellently done. The recording quality although not State of the Art, is very good. At bargain price for a three disc set, Good to great performances, decently recorded, how can you go wrong?
John Drew
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, 8 Mar 2013
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This review is from: Rachmaninov: The Symphonies etc. (Audio CD)
This was a present for a cousin.I already had a copy which I lloved.An absolute joy as one would expect from Ashkenazy!
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0 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rachmaninov, 3 May 2013
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This review is from: Rachmaninov: The Symphonies etc. (Audio CD)
A very reasonable set of recordings - but not the aboslutely perfect sound reproduction needed on my rather sophisticted equipment
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Rachmaninov: The Symphonies etc.
Rachmaninov: The Symphonies etc. by Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra (Audio CD - 1998)
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