Prompted by Nick, Harry and enthusiast's views on Previn's Rachmaninov 2 I offer a niche for expansion of this topic.....I find that Rachmaninov is one of those composers who inspires extreme views (in many directions).
I got to know his 2nd symphony through Previn's version (which was much-touted as one of the first to open out the cuts). I found it gorgeous and heart-warming and comes from a time when Previn was attracting a lot of attention. I loved his story about the Russian woman with tears in her eyes offering him an orange in gratitude after a performance in Moscow.
I have bought a few versions since that EMI LP (notably the very broad Rozhdestvensky performance on Pickwick), but for me, the Previnremains like a first love. It seems anything but bland, but I would accept that the recording needs a sharper focus - or appropriate knob-tweaking!
Around the time of release of Previn's Rach 2 I also bought Ormandy's Symphonic Dances, which was coupled with Hindemith's Mathis der Maler symphony. That also remains a firm favourite despite challenges from Kondrashin and Ashkenazy.
For me, versions of the concertos don't inspire such loyalty to the first versions that I heard. But I still find it hard to beat Earl Wild's efforts with Horenstein and the RPO from 1965, which was my first CD set of the piano concertos.
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