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Rachmaninoff - Symphonic Dances Original recording remastered

4.8 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Original recording remastered, 18 Apr 2008
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Frequently bought together

  • Rachmaninoff - Symphonic Dances
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  • Dvorak / Janacek: Symphonies [Manfred Honeck] [Reference Recordings: FR-710]
Total price: £40.53
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Product details

  • Audio CD (18 April 2008)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Original recording remastered
  • Label: Reference Recordings
  • ASIN: B00005QD5Z
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 196,359 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Customer Reviews

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Format: Audio CD
The "Symphonic Dances" have become increasingly popular over recent years as an orchestral showpiece. I own several versions and enjoy them all but the recent recording along with a superb "Isle of the Dead" and "The Rock" by Petrenko with the newly invigorated Royal Liverpool Philharmonic absolutely blew me away, and that disc went right to the top of my list alongside the Batiz account with the RPO on Naxos.

This Minnesota Orchestra recording from 2001 has many merits, not least the extraordinarily full, detailed, balanced sound and the virtuosity of the players themselves, but I cannot claim that it displays the same verve and attack of the best rival versions. Both Petrenko and Batiz manage a leaner, lighter touch, sharper articulation and greater subtlety on their control of dynamic contrasts. Oue sounds by contrast over-careful and a little blowsy. Ashkenazy, by contrast, is less careful, going for impact and almost rushes his fences, thus missing the opportunity to bring out instrumental details; his 1983 recording also enjoys less vivid sound than the three other recordings I mention here. As a result, there is nothing in Oue's interpretation to make my loyalty swerve away from Petrenko and Batiz. Don't misunderstand me: these performances are by no means pedestrian - they are extremely attractive, well-played and conducted but they lack magic. To some degree, the seductive sound distracts from that fact.

However, an additional attraction of the Oue disc, following a suave but again slightly bland "Vocalise", is the provision of the five more rarely performed "Études-tableaux", originally composed for piano but here performed in the orchestrated version by Respighi. I had not heard these in this form before and I welcome the chance to hear them so elegantly played, even if they are not perhaps the finest Rachmaninov. Their variety of mood and range of colour make for an interesting bonus.
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Format: Audio CD
A couple of years ago I heard Eiji Oue guest conduct the Gulbenkian Orchestra in Lisbon and have never heard that orchestra play better than under maestro Oue. So I don't know who deserves more credit for the Minnesota Orchestra's great recording of Rachmaninoff program on Reference Recordings, Oue or Prof. Johnson's 24 bit HDCD recording. It is, quite simply, stunning in sound and interpretation. Oue's interpretation of the Symphonic Dances make them into a coherent, three-movement symphony, and the rest of the program, including Vocalise, Études-Tableau, ending with the invigorating March (Op. 39 No. 9)leave one wanting more. The Minnesota Orchestra is in great form, particularly the strings, percussion and brass, all of which are brought out in detail and timbre in the best sound I have ever heard on a classical CD. Sometimes the sweep of the orchestra seems to suck the air out of the room and the visceral weight of the bass drum in the first and third Symphonic Dances shocks the listener if your speakers have the bottom end to reproduce it. The finale of the third is colossal and the decay of the final note unique in my experience of classical recordings. Oue puts the pedal to the metal and the orchestra responds; then Dr Johnson records the result with consummate skill. This CD is no doubt a demonstration disc but one which you can listen to over and over and always feel that a standing ovation is deserved when the last note fades away. In interpretation, dynamic range and transparency, this CD is a reference in the sense that it sets a standard in sound quality for others to strive for.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
The Symphonic Dances were Rachmaninov's last completed orchestral work, and did not find much favour for the early part of their life, but have gradually come into their own thanks to the advocacy of conductors like Ormandy, Temirkanov and Jansons to name but a few powerful interpreters of these wonderful pieces. No other recording of them enjoys the resplendent sound of this one, one of Keith Johnson's very best 24 bit HDCD Reference series
Recorded in 2001,(but not released in the UK other than through specialist importers until recently), then music director Eji Oue elicits the most stunning playing from the Minnesota Orchestra, whose distinctly American sound is ideally suited to this music-after all, Rachmaninov had the Philadelphia in mind when he wrote it!
Indeed, this recording is very redolent of the massive and resonant sound world conjured up by Ormandy and that very orchestra by the Columbia Engineers in the 50's and 60's-but with even more detail and weight.
Oue's approach to the Symphonic Dances is biased much more to the Symphonic than to the Dance, treating this work as a 4th Symphony, more square and weighty than some in the first movement, wistful and nostalgic in the second, and incisive and disciplined in the third where he keeps a tight rhythmic rein on the fugal variations on Rachmaninov's beloved "Dies Irae" motif and with a deep and melancholy central adagio section leading to a brilliant and shattering finale.Lovers of the Tam Tam are in for a treat.This work's structure very much mirrors that of the 3rd symphony, and Oue imparts the gravitas that a symphony demands.
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