on 26 August 2015
Considering the disastrous first performance of Rachmaninov's First Symphony, which understandably nearly produced a complete breakdown in his health, it is surprising that he elected to write another such work,and even more surprising that it turned out to be one of the greatest Romantic Symphonies anyone had ever written. From the brooding opening to the exultant and triumphant conclusion, this is a journey to place in the memory. An undoubted added bonus is Andre Previn and the LSO, who give the performance of a lifetime: I would have no hesitation in saying that it has never been bettered, and probably never will be.
We know from the outset that the Symphony is to be on a vast canvass. Previn takes his time with the Introduction, which gradually evolves into the first movement proper, via a Cor Anglais solo, and achieves some truly powerful climaxes as the work progresses: the one at the central point of the development of the first movement is truly monumental. There are times when the music positively glows: in particular the central climax of the 3rd movement, and the luxurious Second Subject of the finale.. The work has its darker,more intense moments too, which are skilfully structured by Previn: watch for the stamping rhythms of the Trio section of the Scherzo, and its close, where the brass intone the Motto theme, with its hint of the "Dies Irae" before the movement just disappears. Another incredible passage occurs after the Finale's second subject tune has come to rest, when descending scale passages rise in intensity until it seems as if a great peal of bells are sounding, which launch us back into the Carnival of the Finale's opening. There are many more felicitous moments which you will discover as you progress with repeated hearings.
The Orchestral playing and precision, it hardly needs to be said, is splendid throughout. This Symphony needs close co-ordination between the players, and strong discipline, If there is a Star, it must be the solo Clarinet in the 3rd movement's opening, but above all, the players are evidently thoroughly enjoying themselves; you cannot ask for more. Whatever CD's you purchase in the future, make sure this is at the top of your list.
on 1 June 2014
This recording contains everything you need to appreciate this gorgeous music. Forget the technicalities...this is just sublime music in a near perfect performance by The LSO at the top of their game under Andre Previn, and beautifully recorded by EMI too. It's the must have version as far as I,m concerned and I only wonder why I didn't add it to my collection long ago.
on 29 April 2014
With Mr Previn having just turned 85, I think it's time we acknowledged just how lucky we were that he came to live in UK. His period with the LSO was particularly fruitful, this recording a lovely reminder. This score is all about strings, and under Previn they certainly go for it. Woodwind is "characterful" but not particularly unanimous in approach, though J Brymer handles the meandering slow movement well.
I wish I could listen to this disc while driving, but my VW CD player just can't read it.