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Where is Rachmaninov the Romantic?
on 10 December 2012
"Not Romantic enough! Not Romantic enough!" was the continual refrain of my thoughts while listening to this. Petrenko conducts Rachmaninov as if he is Shostakovich, emphasising the rhythms and crescendos, but also causing the music to sound jumpy and a little superficial. The adagio is especially speedy at under 14 minutes. It's often easy to forget that Rachmaninov was a Russian composer, so perhaps Petrenko (a fellow Russian) was trying to highlight his heritage.
On the plus side, there is no doubt that Petrenko is one of the most promising conductors of the moment and, considering this is the Liverpool Philharmonic after all, the fullness of sound he creates, especially in the strings, is remarkable. His musicality and sensitivity is clear to see - fingers crossed for a major orchestral appointment soon. EMI's sound is decent, not brilliant - quite thick and lacking air. I have Svetlanov's version with the Russian Symphony Orchestra and, in honesty, that performance is light years ahead. Petrenko's Rachmaninov is too sparkly and too energetic, missing the Romantic anguish and turbulence that epitomises the work.