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Symphony 2/the Rock

Sergey Rachmaninov , Mikhail Pletnev , Russian National Orchestra Audio CD
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Song TitleArtist Time Price
listen  1. Rachmaninov: Symphony No.2 In E Minor, Op.27 - 1. Largo - Allegro moderatoMikhail Pletnev16:34Album Only
listen  2. Rachmaninov: Symphony No.2 In E Minor, Op.27 - 2. Allegro moltoMikhail Pletnev10:02Album Only
listen  3. Rachmaninov: Symphony No.2 In E Minor, Op.27 - 3. AdagioMikhail Pletnev12:16Album Only
listen  4. Rachmaninov: Symphony No.2 In E Minor, Op.27 - 4. Allegro vivaceMikhail Pletnev12:38Album Only
listen  5. Rachmaninov: The Rock, Op.7Mikhail Pletnev12:56Album Only

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Product Details

  • Orchestra: Russian National Orchestra
  • Conductor: Mikhail Pletnev
  • Composer: Sergey Rachmaninov
  • Audio CD (June 14, 1994)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Deutsche Grammophon
  • ASIN: B000001GLZ
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #221,354 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Almost perfect May 17, 2000
Format:Audio CD
I love the sound of this orchestra! The strings retain the weight and expressive power traditionally found in Russian orchestras, and the wind and brass, while still distinctive, have become more integrated into the overall sound.
Listen to "The Rock", a beautiful early miniature, and we hear orchestra and conductor at their best. Both the delicacy of the early woodwind solos and the wonderful, trombone-heavy climax are perfectly realized. The sound here is exemplary.
In the symphony, Pletnev emphasizes the cogency of Rachmaninov's symphonic argument. Like the previous reviewer, I especially enjoyed the unsentimental but moving performance of the Adagio. The very fast tempo for the finale is amazing.
Taken on its own terms this CD will give much pleasure. However, listen to the recording of the symphony by Sanderling with the Leningrad PO on DG Originals and you hear, expecially in the first movement, a depth of emotion and a spontaneity which is missing here. And although that recording is in mono, it offers clearer, less congested sound than DG gives us here in the symphony.
In conclusion, this CD is worth buying for what is problably the best ever recording of "The Rock", and for an excellent, but not definitive, reading of the symphony.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not Pletnev's best by a long way July 13, 2008
By dvimus
Format:Audio CD
I had high hopes for this recording but it ultimately comes in well down the list of contenders.

Problems start in the first movement which for all its virtuoso performance comes across as curiously detached. Pletnev's choice of speeds are the principal cause of most of the problems. It all starts well enough, but upon encountering the first Allegro, it doesn't take long to notice the ensemble isn't as good as it should be. The reason is Pletnev has taken things a little too fast. The problems really set in at the Meno Mosso after Fig 13. This is taken way too fast and results in Pletnev making the next quick section quicker still and quicker than marked as well. The result is a messy rendering of rhythms and articulation throughout the orchestra. Semiquavers are played no different to triplet quavers which, considering the detail Rachmaninov put into his score is simply unacceptable. Details in rhythm right, left and centre are ignored in the headlong rush. There is also a quite ugly bit of over playing from the first trumpet in the climax before Fig 19. Yuk.

The second movement is perhaps the most sucessful. Pletnev's control here is better for the most part and his choice of tempos leave his players some room to play their best and the music gets chance to breathe. In the quicker outer sections, the Russian orchestra gets chance to show its virtuosity without having to compensate for excess sppeed.

The same cannot be said about the Adagio which is again taken very quickly. The peace and repose that Previn and principal clarinet Jack Brymer managed to bring is in short supply here. Rachmaninov's tempo is 50 beats a minute, yet Pletnev starts at 60, a significant difference and it shows to the detriment of the performance.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Audio CD
Because the Rachmaninov Second is a staple of Russian concerts, there is hardly a bad recording in the post-Soviet era. (Gergiev's early one on Philipps didn't do justice to his galvanic, ultra-exciting performances in concert, a lack that was remedied by his recent remake with the London Sym. on the orchestra's house label.) All one really needs to choose is the degree of polish that feels right, along with levels of virtuosity, recorded sound, and other fairly secondary things. DG plumped its bet on Mikhail PLetnev as a great conductor -- at the time this recording was made, 1994, he was establishing a thick discography of Russian music. Frankly, EMI's bet, which was on Mariss Jansons, and especially Philips-Decca, which was on Gergiev, has paid off better.

This is a capable reading that displays the kind of surface polish and moderate instincts of Vladimir Ashkenazy or, long ago, Eugene Ormandy. We get bold, beautiful sounds. The fact that the Russian National Sym., which Pletnev founded, was capable of playing up to international standards -- not always true for Soviet orchestras -- made a big impression back then but less so now. The recorded sound is close and full of impact. Nothing goes amiss, but for real distinction you have to look toward past masters of this symphony: Svetlanov, Termirkanov, Bychkov, and the afore-mentioned Gergiev and Jansons are my favorites. Still, if their recordings vanished and only Pletnev's remained, we would be admiring it as thoroughly accomplished and beautifully executed.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly Russian rendition March 17, 2010
Format:Audio CD
With the reviewer who gave this two stars, i agree about one thing: if you want to listen to Previn's version, don't expect this to fulfill your fantasies. Other than that...

The sound of the orchestra is balanced somewhere between the gorgeous and the grotesque - it is quite unmistakably Russian, and i mean this in the best possible sense (by this i refer to nothing such as coarseness). For overtly romantic Russian works that verge almost on the gothic, like Rachmaninov symphonies, it's hard to imagine a more suitable soundscape.

Pletnev's lead is impetuous and passionate, which does not translate to lack of control - regarding that i would even say his grip is firm and his vision well thought out. i have heard a version of this symphony by a modern and well-known western conductor who was unable to hold it together almost from the very beginning - a difficulty i think all Rachmaninov's symphonies have in common, they are impossible to go through as an automaton and reveal insincerity very quickly.

Should i say something about the Rock? i had not heard it before, but i have no idea why it isn't as revered and oft-played as Rachmaninov's phenomenal tone-poem Isle of the Dead.

i'm not one to choose a favourite version of a work, as i can be equally satisfied by another kind of reading pulsing to the different rhythm of someone else's heart, but at least i can say this reading could maybe be equalled but never defeated. (For example, i like Askhenazy's version just as much.)
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