Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Svetlanov, Orchestre Symphonique D'etat De La Federation De Russie|
Rachmaninov: Symphony No. 1; Caprice Bohemien; Scherzo en Re
Back again - now with no pain
Steen Mencke | Denmark | 10/22/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Evgeny Svetlanov (1928-2002) was already a big gun back in the time of red flags and party days (and not the fun kind of party either!). Hailed in his native land as a hero of the people, his star also soared in France where he was seen as the only legitimate heir to the mantle of the legendary Mravinsky, and his years with the USSR Symphony Orchestra in the 1960's and 70's were active and productive to say the least. Hardly a note of Russian music escaped the swish of his baton, and mostly he did a fine job or better. Inspirational fire and tempi that would make the audience break a sweat was his stock and trade, and rarely did you have a dull day with his Tchaikovsky or Rachmaninov. My only problem with his art always was that technically disastrous recordings pressed in vinyl the record company must have found in the local scrap yard, left me with a splitting headache after a couple of movements. I know one is supposed to suffer for art, but even so ...
In 1991 his orchestra became The Symphony Orchestra of the Federation of Russia (same musicians, fewer party badges, I assume), and though the sound is still a bit congested at times and the treble a tad shrill here and there, wonders certainly have been worked, and Aspirin is now no longer a mandatory side dish to these recordings. Svetlanov too has mellowed with age, and like a good port he has gained in complexity but lost very little in edge. The tempi are less hell-for-leather these days, but still the sparks can and do fly when called for; and boy! are they called for in the finale of this Rachmaninov's first and - to my mind - greatest and most original symphony. Svetlanov obviously loves this work warts an' all, and this is the kind of recording that really makes you wish the composer was still around to listen! From the mischievous gypsy rhythms of the scherzo over the darkly glowing larghetto with its chorale-like passages, to the world shattering climax of the finale Svetlanov just simply refuses to put a foot wrong. Only Pletnev and his soloist-orchestra - the RNO - comes close to delivering the overall effect of this recording, and still what they gain in clarity and intellectual insight Svetlanov trumps in spades with an emotional intensity so Russian it makes your hair stand on end.
I had the good(?) fortune to get a ticket to Gergiev's performance of this symphony at the London Proms in September, but his vision doesn't hold a candle to Svetlanov and I shall not soon forgive his (Gergiev's) profoundly lackluster conclusion, that constituted a downright bucket of water right on the "fuoco" of the Allegro con.
I currently own eight versions of this music, and they all have their merits, but for a reading of this almost lost symphony that has both brain and b.... - guts, Svetlanov's is about as good as it gets. The two fill-ups: the Caprice Bohémien and the Scherzo in D minor are rarely heard and all but never recorded. One can only wonder why!"