2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
One of Ashkenazy's best discs of orchestral Rachmaninov,
This review is from: Rachmaninov: Symphonic Dances / The Isle of the Dead (Audio CD)
This disc, very well recorded in the early 1980's, contains two masterly compositions and two masterly performances. The reviewer who complains of poor recorded digital sound has simply had a different aural experience to mine. I have four high end sets of equipment in different rooms within the house (and no neighbours to worry about!), and in each case the sound is exemplary.
Rachmaninov's darker side is fully explored in his dramatic vision of Bocklin's painting in his Isle of the Dead. Ashkenazy brings a level of dramatic building to this piece to match Reiner's famous earlier recording with the Chicago orchestra. He has the benefit of equally fine orchestral playing, a more modern and wide ranging recording and his own unmistakable Russian temperament. This is an unbeatable combination.
As regards his view of the Symphonic Dances, this too benefits from all the same orchestral and recording qualities. In addition, Ashkenazy knows this music from the two-piano alternative as can be witnessed from his fine recording of that version with Previn, and this enables him to bring out details that might otherwise be lost. The piano version, by not being orchestral, usually enables far more of the textural and rhythmical detail to register. This is not the case here. There are many other fine performances of this late orchestral work and I enjoy those by Svetlanov (who views the work as a fourth symphony), Petrenko, Previn and Jansons amongst others but if pressed to own just one, it would be this one by Ashkenazy.
I would therefore suggest that, if the program appeals, this disc certainly deserves the most serious consideration for potential purchasers.