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Symphony No. 2 Vocalise


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In the wake of his First Symphony' catastrophic premiere, Rachmaninov took a decade before commencing his Second, painstakingly revising it before conducting the triumphant premiere in 1908. Although haunted, like his First, by the Dies irae chant melo

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 11 reviews
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
They're back! Jan. 26 2010
By Ryan Richards - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
What a coup for Naxos to land Slatkin and the Detroit Symphony in their roster! And how nice it is to hear my home-state orchestra recording again, starting things off the right way with a killer Rach 2.

I've heard two other recordings of this symphony: The echt-Russian Temirkanov reading that impressed me with its intensity, and the Ashkenazy recording that was notable for the way it caressed individual moments within the larger framework. Slatkin charts a third course, focusing on generating an unwavering forward momentum in each movement. This doesn't necessarily mean he's faster than the rest (though he does shave a minute off Temirkanov's already quick timing in the Scherzo); he just keeps his focus on the long line of each movement and refuses to let the symphony bog down in its own weight. Playing snippets of this new recording against either of the other two recordings above doesn't work to the newcomer's advantage; played straight through, however, Slatkin's reading ends up being more compelling than either of them. He manages to weave this sometimes sprawling work into a coherent whole, and the "rightness" and confidence of his vision, coupled with the top-shelf playing of the DSO, make this warhorse symphony sound new again. That's as good a definition of a classical-music success as I can think of, and I'm proud to add this recording to my shelf alongside the other two.

(This is a live recording, but the well-behaved audience is virtually silent until they explode after the last note. It's the perfect cap to a wonderful performance.)
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Superb Performance - Must Have! Jan. 26 2010
By Thomas Kukla - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Being a DSO supporter, listener, and follower since the 1950's, I must admit the rejuvenated Maestro Slatkin (recently recovered from a heart attack) has turned in a winning performance of the Rachmaninov 2nd symphony with beautiful playing by, I believe, one of the finest American orchestras today, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra! The 3rd movement, in particular, is played with wonderful phrasing and sonority.
Bravo! to this performance, one that I MUST give only the highest recommendation of hearing and owning if Rachmaninov is your "cup of tea".
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Great Rachmaninov from the Motor City Jan. 7 2012
By R. Michael Gray - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Leonard Slatkin recorded a good cycle with the St. Louis Symphony back in the mid-eighties on the Vox label. At the time St. Louis was as good as any orchestra in the country. What Slatkin did not have was the wonderful sound and engineering found on this recording. This is an outstanding recording in every aspect. In fact, this is one of the best engineered recordings from Naxos that I have heard. The interpretation is idiomatic and the playing by the Detroit Symphony can match the top ensembles. The more I play this recording the more it moves closer to the top of my list. Two other recordings that are comparable are Ashkenazy and the Concertgebouw and Lopez-Cobos with Cincinnati. But this recording is as good as those if not better. The tempi are just right in every movement and every section of the orchestra sounds marvelous. This recording also includes a beautiful rendition of Vocalise where again, the strings sound wonderful. I would be very interested in hearing more Rachmaninov from this team. Even if you have several recordings of this piece this recording belongs in your library.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
One of the Best Dec 18 2012
By J. R. Trtek - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Some time ago I met rendition on EMI by Andre Previn and the London Symmphony of this work and have never felt inclined to look elsewhere for a satisfying performance. This recording had garnered some comment, however, and at the Naxos price I felt I might as well take the plunge. While I don't think that Slatkin and his forces outdo Previn and his, this release is nonetheless very worthwhile, and if you aren't neurotic about acquiring the alleged "best" performance of anything, and if price is a factor, then this album is one you should pick up and consider a keeper. There's all the lushness, energy and Romantic overkill that you might hope for, all kept on a sufficiently taut leash so that it doesn't devolve into a formless mess. The No. 14 Vocalise, not an uncommon companion to the symphony, has adequate doses of smooth yearning to make it a successful rendering as well. While I still give the Previn first place in my own limited experience, I don't think you can go wrong with this disc either. Recommended.
7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
An encouraging beginning for Slatkin and the Detroit Sym. Jan. 30 2010
By Santa Fe Listener - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Despite his early promise, and tons of favorable publicity, slatkin has failed to grow as a conductor and now barely hangs on to an international career. With that disclaimer out of the way, I'm heartened to see that the Detroit Sym., once so beloved by audiophiles for their groundbreaking early stereo recordings on Mercury, has found another home for recordings. Naxos is doing well by several regional American orchestras like Nashville, Buffalo, and now Detroit. Of the three, this is the one with the big sound and (almost) undiminished reputation. Naxos has recorded them vividly; the ensemble seems to be in fine shape after Neeme Jarvi's regime, so what about the actual performance?

No doubt the Russians own this music, and there are superlative versions from Jansons, Temirkanov and Byhkov that Slatkin cannot compete with for authority and power, not to mention a classic Previn reading from 1972 with the London Sym. in top form (EMI). It's a relief to report, however, that he's in good form himself and gets the orchestra to deliver a lyrical, flexible reading that's far from routine or dull. As is often the rule, the recording originates from a live concert, in the fall of 2009. The audience is all but noiseless, the performance proceeds without fluffs. I'd wish for more passion and intensity, and the lush Adagio is a bit chaste, but still, this is a very encouraging beginning to the relationship between orchestra and conductor -- at tis price, in such vibrant sound, it's heartily recommended.

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