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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars LSO Live at its best
The CD description given by Amazon accurately portrays this quintessentially romantic work; in particular, the slow movement melody is very well known. Of Rachmaninov's three symphonies, it is the most popular, and this is my fourth SACD of the work.
Gergiev's duration is almost 61 minutes - he does not linger unduly, but neither does he rush, with the possible...
Published on 26 April 2010 by Mr. John Manning

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8 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing and Dull Rachmaninov
I have to agree with all the last reviewer (Marc Haegeman) has to say about this interpretation by Gergiev of Rachmaninov's most popular symphony. Notwithstanding the excellent playing from the LSO I found it to be a dull and disappointing listen.The recording isn't that great either, though the SACD layer is marginally better than the CD layer. Evgeny Svetlanov, Vladimir...
Published on 27 Jun 2010 by Dame Celia


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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars LSO Live at its best, 26 April 2010
By 
Mr. John Manning (Penarth, Vale of Glam Wales) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Rachmaninov: Symphony No. 2 (LSO/Gergiev) (Audio CD)
The CD description given by Amazon accurately portrays this quintessentially romantic work; in particular, the slow movement melody is very well known. Of Rachmaninov's three symphonies, it is the most popular, and this is my fourth SACD of the work.
Gergiev's duration is almost 61 minutes - he does not linger unduly, but neither does he rush, with the possible exception of the closing bars, which I have not heard to sound faster than on this SACD. As a comparison, Paavo Jarvi on Telarc (see my review) takes approximately 4 minutes longer overall. Incidentally, there is no 'filler' on this disc, unlike Jarvi's.
Obviously the LSO is very familiar with this popular work; it has made memorable recordings of it (including one with Andre Previn that I treasured) and the musicians give their all for Gergiev. If any orchestra can provide the conductor with all his requirements, the LSO can; there are many beautiful moments on this disc including a ravishing clarinet solo in the slow movement. Gergiev's tempo and dynamic changes are accomplished with ease, and the brisk ending is the only point at which I hear any effort.
I am pleased to be able to welcome a new recording from this source; the LSO Live series has not always satisfied me. As a whole I would describe this recording as clear, revealing, slightly dry and lean-sounding. There is no audience noise, and the slight dryness in the timpani and bass drum lead me to guess that it is multi-miked, balanced expertly. As with some previous issues from LSO Live, I find that an increase in my normal volume level, (of about 3dB), pays dividends and helps to add some ambience, and clarity in the double-basses. Discreet use of the rear speakers also helps with the ambience in surround - the stereo tracks sound slightly drier and not quite as smooth in the upper frequencies. There are many plus points to this disc, and if I were forced to have only one recording of this symphony I would not be too upset if this were the one.
I see that the other two symphonies are planned, and I will be very interested to hear them.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The LSO know how this music is played!, 20 May 2012
By 
Tintagel (St Albans, Herts) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Rachmaninov: Symphony No. 2 (LSO/Gergiev) (Audio CD)
The LSO has, of course, made a classic recording of this work already under Previn. That performance has plenty of romantic ardour and feeling for the sometimes autumnal colours and melancholic mood. This new performance adds supreme orchestral execution to the mix, where Previn's 1970's LSO isn't quite as refined as the sentimental hoards around at the time might have you believe.

Certainly the Barbican acoustic doesn't impart much bloom on the sound, but there is so much going on in the orchestra, and the recording is so detailed that you hardly notice at the start, and not at all later on.

Gergiev allows the music plenty of space to breathe without loss of momentum, though he is helped by the Orchestra's magnificently incisive playing. Every voice speaks cleanly and clearly, yet the Russian forcefulness blazes through.

The great, sweeping string melody in the finale may not have quite the intensity of Pletnev's RNO version, but it's all of a piece with Gergiev's conception. The finale's coda goes off like a rocket, fuelled by pure adrenalin.

A great classic in the making, surely.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gergiev turns out your dream Rachmaninov, exciting yet full of inner life, 29 Mar 2012
By 
Andrew R. Barnard (Leola, Pa United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Rachmaninov: Symphony No. 2 (LSO/Gergiev) (Audio CD)
Being the greatest Russian conductor alive, it seems natural that Gergiev turn to the Rachmaninov 2nd now that he's at the helm of a great orchestra. Rachmaninov asks for sweeping power, something that Gergiev never seems to lack. Yet I think Rachmaninov is more than noise, so I approached this disc hoping that Gergiev would be able to give us more than excitement. With two great recordings already in my library from Jansons and Ashkenazy, I hoped that Gergiev would be able to something new and remarkable.

I'll confess that my greatest fear was that Gergiev would miss the beauty in this piece. Full of natural flair, I knew that Gergiev would be able to let us in on the power and passion side of Rachmaninov; would he let us see Rachmaninov's melancholic broodings? The opening "Largo" is every bit as intense and yearning as Jansons and Ashkenazy, perhaps more so. But Gergiev's true moment comes when the "Allegro moderato" begins. I simply wasn't prepared for anything so achingly beautiful. Gergiev is incredibly tender, yet he lets the music run its course. As the movement progresses, Gergiev is both sensitive and spontaneous. Gergiev makes the music seem inevitable, fresh from the pen yet it never sounds reckless. Gergiev digs much deeper than either Jansons or Ashkenazy while still seeming the most exciting. I was breathless the first time I listened.

Ashkenazy had the natural advantage of the Concertgebouw's high level of playing in the rambunctious 2nd movement. Gergiev's LSO is more polished and dark, but they don't sound as effortless as the Concertgebouw. But Gergiev again seems more involved than his rivals; there's a pulsating drama throughout that moves me in a way Ashkenazy doesn't. Gergiev has a wondrous hold on the long-term vision of the work that adds to the ultimate effect.

The dark string sound of the LSO is ideal for the melancholic slow movement, wonderful enough to provide interest under a dull conductor. But a dull conductor Gergiev isn't. Both Jansons and Ashkenazy opted for a sunnier view of the movement, but I find Gergiev's propulsive look to be more satisfying. Gergiev doesn't chase the obvious romantic character of the movement away, but he's fundamentally taking a deep look. I sense melancholy but also tragedy.

With the Concertgebouw to help him out, Ashkenazy opens the finale with such lightness that the music can't stay on the ground. I don't get that from Gergiev but once again his grasp of the work as a whole is unrivaled. Gergiev finds sensitive beauty in the lyrical sections of the work while unleashing gripping excitement in the climaxes. This isn't start-and-stop conducting; Gergiev flows effortlessly and never sounds slightly episodic. There are surprises everywhere, but perhaps most astonishing is the very end. Here Gergiev suddenly accelerates, ending the symphony with blazing colors.

After feeling that I owned spectacular Rachmaninov 2nd's, this one sets a new standard. I can't possibly praise it enough.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A credit to all concerned, 29 Dec 2010
This review is from: Rachmaninov: Symphony No. 2 (LSO/Gergiev) (Audio CD)
I heard a sample of this performance on Classic FM and was immediately impressed by the care taken over the complex detail of the piece. Checking the reviews on Amazon, I hesitated to purchase, as there seemed to be a divergence of opinion. Then my son bought me the CD for Christmas - thanks Lau, this is simply brilliant. The performance is Rachmaninov for listeners who want more than just the big themes. The LSO is well-balanced, the strings soaring when necessary but not dominating, the brass section a bright punctuation where required, and the clarity to hear, for example, some fine tuba playing. In the well-known slow movement, the opening string ritornello is kept under control, so that it can return with differing emphasis throughout the movement, and so that one wistfully lonely clarinet can set the tone of the movement. There are some unusual modulations of tempo, but they work, and the sheer pace and energy of the final passage fair takes the breath away. There is plenty of sumptuous, heart-tugging Rachmaninov on the market: it is good to hear a performance that does the composer credit by allowing the subtle complexities of this symphony to come to the fore. Now would Georgiev and the LSO be so kind as to record the Symphonic Dances, please?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My favourite Piece of music, 29 Aug 2013
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This review is from: Rachmaninov: Symphony No. 2 (LSO/Gergiev) (Audio CD)
This is my most favoured piece of music. I REALLY enjoy the whole thing. The only sad bit about it, is when it comes to the final few bars and I realise that the whole thing is over. What to do? Either start again at the beginning, or start to listen to Rachmaninov's 3rd Piano Concerto, "THE Rach". After that, it's over to the 4th Piano Concerto, what else?
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8 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing and Dull Rachmaninov, 27 Jun 2010
This review is from: Rachmaninov: Symphony No. 2 (LSO/Gergiev) (Audio CD)
I have to agree with all the last reviewer (Marc Haegeman) has to say about this interpretation by Gergiev of Rachmaninov's most popular symphony. Notwithstanding the excellent playing from the LSO I found it to be a dull and disappointing listen.The recording isn't that great either, though the SACD layer is marginally better than the CD layer. Evgeny Svetlanov, Vladimir Ashkenazy and Gennady Rozhdestvensky do it so much better.
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4 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating version that sets a new standard for the Rachmaninov Second, 11 May 2010
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This review is from: Rachmaninov: Symphony No. 2 (LSO/Gergiev) (Audio CD)
I think few people would disagree that Gergiev is our pre-eminent Rachmaninov conductor. Not so long ago that would have been minor praise, but with the influx of so many talented Russian conductors, the once fairly rare Rachmaninov Second has become a concert staple. Gergiev doesn't need to make a case for it. Heavily cut, it has always been a plush toy for the ears. Ormandy held the patent for decades in the U.s. before ceding his place to a knockout reading from Previn and the London Sym. in 1973, still extant as one of EMI's Great Recordings of the Century. It was a satisfyingly gorgeous reading, yet Gergiev now comes along to set a new standard.

There is always present in Rachmaninov's symphonies a gaudy lusciousness reminiscent of Hollywood film scores. But Gergiev heads in the opposite direction. He feels each bar personally and expresses every emotion genuinely. The same fork in the road appears in Tchaikovsky, and it took Mravinsky's benchmark DG recordings in the early Sixties to tell the West that for Russians, Tchaikovsky is their Beethoven. I suppose that makes Rachmaninov their Brahms, but the point is that the panoramic melodrama and heightened fervency is considered normal, not a neon-lit excess. with that in mind, Gergiev is the only conductor I've heard who can traverse the entire distance between quiet melancholy to frenetic outburst while making both extremes sound perfectly apt.

I've heard him conduct the Rachmaninov Second in concert with the CSO, an overwhelming experience of the kind you never want to end -- he justifies opening up all the usual cuts. But in the intervening five years or so, Gergiev has become twice as nuanced and varied in his approach. He's fortunate that the London Sym., that chameleon of orchestras, adapts so perfectly t his style. Not the slightest gesture is lost on them. the only complaint anyone could have is that Too much sensitivity has been applied. The same held true for their recent Prokofiev Romeo and Juliet. Gergiev is so focused and concentrated that the listener is left with no breathing room, even for a moment.

Gergiev's first Rachmaninov Second on Philips struck me as underplayed but in fact it was the beginning of a learning curve, and now we have the ripe fruit of Gergiev's growing process.
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7 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Gergiev versus Gergiev, 6 Jun 2010
By 
Marc Haegeman "Marc Haegeman" (Gent, Belgium) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Rachmaninov: Symphony No. 2 (LSO/Gergiev) (Audio CD)
For the last twenty years Valery Gergiev has proven extremely prolific on the CD market. Next to being one of the busiest maestro's in the world, he has been churning out recordings, studio as well as concerts, even combining labels (Philips, Decca, LSO live and now his own Mariinsky label), at a dazzling pace. Yet, if the beginnings in the early 1990s appeared beautifully auspicious and Gergiev has given us some truly memorable discs, the quality of his CD output has now become as variable as the weather in Brighton.

For some reason, he started re-recording scores he released earlier in his career, as if to say these weren't good enough. Well, be that as it may, but are they really better? After a disappointing full-length "Romeo and Juliet" from Prokofiev which did not improve on his first attempt for one bar, he now goes back to another of his very first discs, Rachmaninov's 2nd Symphony, and again the Mariinsky Orchestra is replaced by the London Symphony Orchestra, taped live at the London Barbican in September 2008. Perversely, history does repeat itself one could say, because at the time when Gergiev recorded Rachmaninov in St. Petersburg in early 1993 the Philips engineers still hadn't quite mastered the acoustics of the Mariinsky Theatre as they would manage later on, and now the Classic Sound people are still struggling with the flat, deadening Barbican acoustics. Yes, we are fifteen years later and the new Rachmaninov does indeed sound more agreeable than the Mariinsky one which captured the orchestra playing under a bell jar, but it's still a far cry from what for example Amsterdam's Concertgebouw has achieved. On the other hand, the LSO is without doubt the better formation of the two, with especially superb strings.

But how was the performance Mrs Lincoln? Actually, Gergiev's redux doesn't come very different from his first effort, except perhaps that he here and there emphasizes some of the cheaper effects, I suppose justified by the concert-hall (the timpani crash at the end of the 1st movement, the accelerando in the coda). But for the remainder he takes the same one-track dark-toned, leisured and rather strait-laced approach, that some will readily interpret as a refusal to indulge in the saccharine pitfalls this music can have plenty of, but which when taken this far also strips it of its visceral thrills, emotional shading, color and pure sonic excitement - as others like Evgeny Svetlanov, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Gennady Rozhdestvensky, and Eugene Ormandy have provided aplenty. Focused as he is, Gergiev exerts a tight grip upon the flow of the music but as has been a noticeable flaw in other recent recordings he hardly ever allows it to take flight and with his too uniformly monochrome approach this symphony becomes a rather dull 61 minutes to sit repeatedly through.

In the end Gergiev only replaces one recording of Rachmaninov's 2nd and that's his own. But for the remainder I can only hope that, unlike a reviewer suggested here, this does not become the standard of Rachmaninov for the coming years. Surely, this music has a lot more in store than Gergiev is prepared to give us.
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Rachmaninov: Symphony No. 2 (LSO/Gergiev)
Rachmaninov: Symphony No. 2 (LSO/Gergiev) by London Symphony Orchestra (Audio CD - 2010)
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