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Symphony No. 3; Vocalise

Stokowski; National Philharmonic Orchestra , Rachmaninov Sergei Audio CD

Price: CDN$ 17.22 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25. Details
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good sound to match the performance April 3 2013
By John J. Puccio - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
It only takes about two minutes of listening to realize that here is something special, an unqualified recommendation with no if's, and's, or but's. The interpretation is, to say the least, highly idiosyncratic (it is Stokowski, after all), and it may not appeal to everyone grown accustomed to a more traditional approach. The Third contains none of the big, memorable themes of Rachmaninov's more overtly Romantic Second Symphony, one of the reasons it often comes off by comparison as rather humdrum and rambling. At best, say under Previn (EMI) or Ashkenazy (London), conductors have made the Third sound lush, if not always exciting. Under Stokowski, however, the Third takes on new dimensions, imbued with a passion I've never found in it before.

John J. Puccio
Classical Candor
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fantastic Rachmaninov Third Feb. 18 2014
By David A. Wend - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
Leopold Stokowski and Sergei Rachmaninov were good friends. They met when Rachmaninov made his first tour of the United States in 1909, when the composer made his debut performing his own Second Piano Concerto with the Cincinnati Symphony, conducted by Stokowski. Over the years, Stokowski gave the American premieres of The Bells and was the dedicatee of Three Russian Folk Songs. Stokowski conducted the world premier of the Third Symphony in 1936, and although the performance was excellent, critics and the public were dumbfounded by the symphony where Rachmaninov opted for shorter, less opulent melodies than he conceived for his Second Symphony. Stokowski never conducted the Third Symphony in public again but turned to it in 1975 when he was 93 to make this recording.

Stokowski's reading of the Third Symphony is exciting and bold, especially in the second movement where he adopts faster tempi than any other conductor. His Allegro vivace certainly lives up to its name. Whereas Rachmaninov's own recording of the symphony clocks in at 11:43, Stokowski's comes in at 9:49. The faster tempi add to the overall drama of the movement, which I find an interesting alternative to the more "accepted" tempi. The first movement is spacious with luminous playing by the National Philharmonic Orchestra, whose members were hand-picked by Stokowski. The melodies flow and build very gradually to the mid-movement orchestral climax with superb effect. The Finale is energetic and dramatic leaving one wanting for more The performance of the Vocalise is superb and beautifully phrased. Stokowski provides an expansive tempo that gives the music a sensuous feel.

I found myself listening in awe to this performance two or three times in a row when I received it. The sound that Stokowski achieves is brilliant with sensitive playing from his orchestra. The sound can be termed lush and rich compared to the recording by the composer but it is a very persuasive performance.

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