This performance of Rachmaninov's second symphony made quite a stir when it was released on vinyl back in 1973 and although that may seem like a generation ago (because it is, sadly!), this newly (1999) re-mastered version succeeds in recapturing the excitement which its original release created. Prior to this recording, Previn and the LSO had toured with the symphony to Russia, where the unexpurgated version had not been heard for years, and it caused a sensation. Listening to this recording, it is not hard to understand why. This is unashamedly beautiful and lyrical music, played by an orchestra and conductor who had no misgivings about whether the music was fashionable or not, and given its full measure of feeling, with great drama and passion. In its newly re-mastered version, it somehow grabs you again, like listening for the first time to the original LP release - and that's no mean compliment, as anyone who bought the LP in the 70s will attest. Great music and an historically important performance. The other items (Vocalise and two pieces from "Aleko") are well done too, but it's the symphony that's the thing! Go on, buy it, you know you won't regret it! Retiefus
I remember this recording when it first appeared on vinyl in the early 1970's and the huge stir it made. Up to this time the conventional wisdowm about Rachmaninov was that he was a piano virtuoso of prodigious skill who wrote music, most of which - excepting the Second and Third Piano Concertos - was over-lush and repetitive romanitc mush: film music for a Hollywood romance of the 1930's. But the early 1970's was also the period when in all the arts the enslavement to the driest of modernism was beginning to be overturned and people were finding it "all right" not to like Boulez and similar composers (just like new building did not have to look like "ocean liners in the sky" with lots of glass and very little wall!).
Previn and the LSO captured the zeitgeist with live performances in England and on tour of this most romantic of symphonies, presented in an un-cut form (though without the first movement exposition repeat - arguably an advantage to have removed as doing so helps the movement's forward momentum). This disc of the Rachmaninov Second is probably the greatest single achievement of the early Previn/LSO days. The string playing is out of this world, singing and stirring into rapture. This is one spectacular case where it is obviously not true that you have to be Russian to perform Rachmaninov!
If Amazon would let me I would give 7 stars to this wonderful disc. If you don't know the symphony then this is one of the very best ways of learning it and I urge you to do so. If you know Rachmaninov 2 then why have you not bought it already?
It is a delight to be reunited with Previn's performance which I previously owned on vinyl and which is now in this splendid, burnished remastering. In 2010 the world isn't short of excellent Rachmaninov Seconds and it's remarkable to think that when this recording was made Previn was considered a pioneer for recording the symphony uncut. Nowadays the idea of cutting a single note from this glorious work is unthinkable, if not positively obscene! I have long treasured Sir Alexander Gibson's recording with the Scottish National Orchestra (they weren't Royal at the time), a performance of utter commitment and integrity which brings back happy memories of queuing for student standby tickets at Glasgow's City Halls in the early 1970s. Nevertheless Previn is in a class of his own. This surely has to be THE definitive Rachmaninov Second and it's an absolute "must have" for every Rachmaninov lover's collection. If you don't have a recording of the Second Symphony this is the one to start with. Everything is right - Previn's direction is flawless, the recording is superb even 37 years on and the orchestral playing is beyond gorgeous. Jack Brymer's clarinet in the slow movement would melt the proverbial heart of stone. Even if you've got half a dozen recordings of it, buy Previn anyway for an object lesson in stunning music making which amply justifies inclusion in the "Great Recordings of the Century".
An excellent remastered recording of the uncut 1973 version of the wonderful Rachmaninov 2nd Symphony by Andre Previn with the LSO it has the added bonus of a beautifully played Vocalise.I have several recordings of this symphony but this is still my favourite although Andrew Litton's recording comes a close 2nd this also has Vocalise as a bonus.Andre Previn had a good spell with the LSO and produced some very good recordings but this is a classic and well worth the price. T.R.
This very famous recording from 1973 followed on from a tour of Russia and the Far East that Previn and the LSO made in 1971. The central item on that tour was the full uncut Rachmaninov 2 and that had tremendously successful receptions everywhere. This recording had a great impact on the fortunes of the symphony in so far as previously it was rare to hear a performance that was not cut, often severely. After this recording it became rare to hear a recording that was cut. This recording therefore has enormous historical and musical significance.
Listening to the disc again, as I have done each year since 1973, once more I have been struck by how the performance almost seems like an organic thing - pulsating and alive. It seems almost inconceivable that it could have been recorded in anything other than in very large takes, perhaps whole movements at a time.
The first issue on LP, was awash with string tone, to the detriment of the rest of the orchestra. As re-masterings have occurred that string focus has slowly become modified and the other sections of the orchestra have rightly come forward. On that basis, I have once more ordered the latest 2011 version and that revised review will be posted after it has been received and compared. As an ex-brass player, I would hope to hear a little more of those instruments within the balance.
This remains an intensely romantic conception as an interpretation and, up to now, the recorded balance with notably sumptuous and sweeping string tone, emphasises this still further. There is very little evidence of raw 'Russian' emotion within this concept and this remains a very central European view. Ashkenazy and the later Svetlanov version, to take two alternative examples, both deliver a far more Russian experience that I would not wish to be without. However and regardless, there will always be a place for Previn's view in my collection.
I would suggest therefore that this classic recording still deserves to be counted among the very best as a purchase, even if the raw Russian experience is not very evident. Ideally I would suggest purchasing both options for the ultimate experience.
All that other reviewers have said about this recording is totally true. In 1973 Previn and the LSO were blazing a trail as the best orchestra in the UK ; on the basis of this recording, which I have owned in LP, cassette,as a first CD issue and now in this re-mastered version, they were up in top world class. The performance appears on EMI's Great Recordings of the Century label, which is the only appropriate place for it, since it truly deserves that accolade. This is conducting, and playing, at the very highest level : the recording, if you notice it, is superlative too.
This is my favorite symphony and this is a near perfect recording by Andre Previn and the London Symphony Orchestra. Why only near perfect, well when you have listened to it as many times as I have, you do notice the ocasional bum note, but what commitment and passion are thrown into the playing. This is an orchestra and conductor at the top of their form, giving their all. Anyone who loves Rachmaninov or Russian romantic music should own this CD !
Rachmaninov 2 a big piece that has had many recordings - some wonderful, some mediocre and very many bad full of sentimentality and romanticism throughout with little or no contrasts or understanding of the different movements and their moods. This recording has Maestro Previn and the LSO at the height of their powers. The romanticism and lyricism of the 3rd movement is handled with care with stunning contrasts in feel and volume from the orchestra. In other movements the volume is such (correctly) that the cones feel they could fall out of the speakers. Previn master of solo instrument, orchestra and jazz reveals his total understanding of music.