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Rachmaninov red in tooth and claw - gripping stuff!,
This review is from: Rachmaninov: Symphony No. 1, Caprice Bohemien, Scherzo in D minor (Audio CD)
Make no mistake - this is the real thing! Svetlanov maintained that only Russians could really play Rachmaninov (and here he means emotionally) and on this re-visited series of the symphonies with an orchestra and record company that can both really deliver he makes a very strong case for his point of view. This is large-scale Rachmaninov with the Russian rawness tamed but not eliminated.
The speeds are generally, but not always, forward moving, the dynamics are wide and the rhythms, so important to Russian and all folk-derived music, dig deep and bite hard. The climax to the last movement takes no prisoners!
The only other performance that I have heard, and I have owned a great number of respected recordings over the years, that carries comparable conviction is the one with Ashkenazy with the Concertgebouw in uncharacteristically full cry and playing like born Russians. It is very well recorded by Decca. Ashkenazy's full series is now available as an advantageously priced set and is practically obligatory listening. Significantly he takes a full 8 minutes less overall than Svetlanov and is faster in all four movements, especially the first and third. This simply illustrates that Svetlanov obtains his power and drive by different means.
The fill-ups on this disc are both worth owning and the similarly dated Caprice Bohemien makes for particularly enjoyable listening.
This is an essential disc to own for anyone interested in a really Russian interpretation with that sort of uninhibited emotional fire. Fortunately the recording is able to contain all this and as such is an enormous improvement over the earlier set which sounds far too raw for my personal enjoyment.