Symphonic Dances Import
|1. Symphonic Dances, Op. 45: Non allegro|
|2. Symphonic Dances, Op. 45: Andante con moto (Tempo di Valse)|
|3. Symphonic Dances, Op. 45: Lento assai - Allegro vivace - Lento assai come prima|
|4. The Bells, Op. 35: The Silver Sleigh Bells - Allegro, ma non tanto|
|5. The Bells, Op. 35: The Mellow Wedding Bells - Lento|
|6. The Bells, Op. 35: The Loud Alarum Bells - Presto|
|7. The Bells, Op. 35: The Mournful Iron Bells - Lento lugubre|
Les trois Danses symphoniques de Rachmaninov n'ont jamais trouvé aux yeux des musicologues une place de choix dans l'oeuvre du compositeur. Pourtant, quel choc sonore ! Créées en 1941 par Eugène Ormandy, elles développent des qualités orchestrales exceptionnelles. Rachmaninov exploite à merveille toutes les couleurs de l'orchestre, et l'on ne peut rester insensible à tant de lyrisme. A la tête de l'Orchestre philharmonique de Moscou, Kiril Kondrachine nous entraîne dans un voyage haut en couleurs, au coeur de sa Russie natale. Un disque pictural ! --Pierre Graveleau
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The Bells is also an excellent performance, but here the weird Soviet engineering (fully acceptable in the Dances) is more of a problem, with its spotlight on solo singers, and problems with the loudest passages.
But this CD is essential in any Rachmaninov collection.
The Previn and Ashkenazy versions are anemic by comparison. The sound is quite good for a '63 recording, and the included Bells is equally great except for the disappointing soprano.
Having said this, as a performance this version by Kondrashin is probably unbeatable. From the first to the last note he lashes the orchestra to play as if the Devil was behind them. The virtuosity of the horns, especially in the final pages, is truly breath-taking, electrifying. Kondrashin sense of rhythm is astonishing in its infinite flexibility and variety. He doesn't stomp, but imposes an uncanny rubato on his players so that you are constantly surprised, even when familiar with the score. And I have to say that, having heard this twenty or more times, the excitement does not wear out. True genius like this can survive repetition.
To hear for yourself how this works, you might compare the opening of No. 3 with other recordings. Hushed, as if swept by the wind, goblins rush bye, until the whole string band suddenly brings us a velvety unisono that makes your hair stand on end. No other reading can match this sense of dark diablery, of something hidden that soon bursts out in the infamous Dies Irae. And there are many places like this in the work that apparently only Kondrashin noticed and manages to bring out.
I look upon The Bells as a filler. It is not as exciting; but I confess at once that I don't like the music much; it is so derivative and "standard Rachmaninov" that even Kondrashin can't marshal a similar excitement as in the Dances. But for me, the Dances are worth the price of the whole album.
Grab it while it's going. This is one of those recordings that make you grateful we invented microphones!