In the wake of his First Symphony's catastrophic première, Rachmaninov took a decade
before commencing his Second, painstakingly revising it before conducting the triumphant
première in 1908. Although haunted, like his First, by the Dies irae chant melody, the
Second Symphony brims with Rachmaninov's revitalised assurance as a composer, from
its brooding opening to the vigorous grandeur of its conclusion. Eric Carmen borrowed
the third movement's poignant theme for his popular song Never Gonna Fall In Love
Again, a tribute to the enduring power of Rachmaninov's Romantic genius.
Ryan Richards | Midland, MI United States | 01/27/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"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.)"
Superb Performance - Must Have!
Thomas Kukla | Grand Rapids, MI USA | 01/27/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"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"."
An encouraging beginning for Slatkin and the Detroit Sym.
Santa Fe Listener | Santa Fe, NM USA | 01/30/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
"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."
Great Performance of a Standard
gofinsc | Columbia SC | 06/12/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"While I'm not a musician or a trained listener, I have been listening for 45 years. I know what I like, and I liked this a lot. This is one of my favorite works, Leonard Slatkin (not his father Felix, as I said when I first posted this review) is one of my favorite conductors, and I have been a fan of Detroit Symphony since the Mercury LP days. NAXOS may be a budget label, and this is available at a low price, but there is nothing budget about the sound. And Mr. Slatkin gets a fine effort from his Detroit musicians, including in the "Vocalise". If you like Rachmaninoff and the Second Symphony, get this. NOW!! I'm eagerly awaiting the releases of the other two Rachmaninoff symphonies by this group, as mentioned in the commercial reviews available elsewhere in this item's information; I hope they are as good as this one."