on 6 November 2013
It was the RLPO and Vasily Petrenko's performance of Tchaikovsky's 'Manfred' symphony at the London Proms that prompted me to download this recording of Rachmaninov's First Symphony and early orchestral work 'Prince Rostislav. I have also downloaded the 'Manfred' symphony as well as Petrenko's recording of Rachmaninov's Third Symphony and Symphonic Dances. Tchaikovsky admired Rachmaninov's early attempts at composition and said that he would include 'The Rock' in his forthcoming tour of Europe but unfortunately his sudden death in October 1893 meant that it never came to pass. As a teenager Rachmaninov transcribed the 'Manfred' symphony for two pianos and also learnt much about orchestration. After Tchaikovky's death he composed a trio in his memory. It goes without saying that when you listen to Rachmaninov's symphonys, the spectre of Tchaikovsky can be seen and heard. The heartfelt melodies, the soaring strings, the huge dramatic climaxes with thrilling brass and percussion are all there. The RLPO play their hearts out under Petrenko's inspired conducting responding to the deep melancholy of the works and performing with energy and exuberance when necessary. The less familiar works such as the Caprice Bohemien, The Rock and Isle of the Dead are played with such enthusiasm under Petrenko's direction that one wishes they were heard more often. Now I look forward to familiarising myself with the RLPO and Vasily Petrenko's Shostakovitch.