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Symphonies Nos 1-3 / Scherzo in D Minor Box set, Import

5.0 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Box set, Import, October 2, 2007
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Editorial Reviews

RACHMANINOV:SYMPHONIES
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14:07
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8:29
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3
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10:34
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13:18
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19:47
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Disc 2
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4:16
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2
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13:32
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9:31
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4
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13:51
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13:35
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5:29
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6:57
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Disc 3
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13:05
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2
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12:16
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3
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12:23
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11:19
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9:30
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13:41
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Product Details

  • Orchestra: St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Conductor: Mariss Jansons
  • Composer: Sergey Rachmaninov
  • Audio CD (October 2, 2007)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 3
  • Format: Box set, Import
  • Note on Boxed Sets: During shipping, discs in boxed sets occasionally become dislodged without damage. Please examine and play these discs. If you are not completely satisfied, we'll refund or replace your purchase.
  • Label: Warner Classics
  • ASIN: B000UZ4EY8
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #174,088 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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By Doug - Haydn Fan VINE VOICE on July 30, 2008
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
For reasons that make no sense Amazon is offering these superb performances by Jansons of the complete Rachmaninov symphonies at rock bottom pricing. Included are that splendid and masterful late work, The Symphonic Dances. As an extra bonus EMI adds that darkest and most morbid of tone poems, "The Isle of the Dead". All this for a little over a dozen dollars! This has been accomplished without any overlapping of the symphonies from one to the next. In our new petro-barter economy, this works out to less than a gallon a symphony!

Jansons gives an exciting, quite forward presentation of the less popular 1st symphony. I have long been in a small minority that enjoy this piece, despite its admitted repetitiousness. The huge fanfare setting the stage may never be lived up to in this work, but it does set the table for the works to come. The far superior 2nd symphony deserves an outstanding performance, and Jansons delivers, with an almost Haitink-like control, presenting the entire musical architecture in razor sharp focus. So vital and important is the 2nd in any complete set of the Rachmnainoff symphonies that had this version not been a top rendition even the bargain basement give-a-way price would not have induced me to recommend this package. No worry with the Third, either, another excellent example, and very well-recorded.

The other works included are equally well done. I prefer them to versions by Previn, whose reputation in Rachmaninov I do not wholly share, and Ashkenazy, who never produces the beautiful bell tones he could as a pianist when he leads an orchestra.
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Format: Audio CD
EMI has issued this set as 3 CD's for the price of one. Its a great value and Jansons' conducting of the 3 symphonies is superb. The second is particularly dramatic. You also get the wonderful and dark Isle of the Dead and the composer's Symphonic Dances. At this price it can't be beat.
Rachmaninov fans need not hesitate.
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Format: Audio CD
Scanning the growing catalog in EMI's "Triplet" series, certain releases jump out, and this is certainly one. Jansons has a family conneciton to the St. Petersburg Phil., since his father, Arvids Jansons, was picked by the great Yevgeny Mravinsky to be his assistant in 1946 when Mariss was three (the orchestra was then the Leningrad Phil., of course). Now that the son is far more famous internationally than the father, it's odd that he has made so few recordings with his famil;y orchestra, so to speak.

This set of Rachmaninov symphonies represents the best of them, highly praised when they first appeared beginning in the late Eighties. Each symphony is as accomplished as the other -- musicians and conductor have this idiom in their bones. EMI's recorded sound has lots of visceral impact (they seemed to do better with their Russian venue at the time than, say, Philips was doing for Gergiev).

Casual listeners will probably not be interested in the sprawling, tumultuous Sym. #1 (after a cool start, I've become addicted to it), but everything else here is prime, ultra lush Rachmaninov, and at a three-for-one price, one can hardly argue. In all, it would be hard to find an integral set of the Rachmaninov symphonies (not forgetting the late Symphonic Dances) to equal Jansons' versions. Also, after doing some comparative listening, I'd rank Ashkenazy's set, also a bargain, as the equal Of Jansons', and he has the advantage of closer, more dramatic sonics from Decca, not to mention the Royal Concertgebouw.

P.S. Feb. 2011 -- On the basis of his remarkable Sym. 2 on LSO Live and a tape I heard of Sym. 1, I think that Gergiev is setting new standards in symphonic Rachmaninov. If he records a complete cycle, it will be hard to prefer Jansons, despite the bargain price.
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Format: Audio CD
Morning and Rachmaninov seem not to have been intended for each other. The final item on the third of these three discs is the Symphonic Dances, which were R's last major composition. The three dances were originally intended for a ballet, and they denote noon, twilight and midnight, morning being unrepresented. The entire scope of this set can also be thought of as a resume of R's total career. Viewing it as a single day, we may take the second symphony and the tone poem Isle of the Dead (dark though that is) as representing the composer's noontide; and the Symphonic Dances and third symphony as some late hour. Morning is here too, but it is having to struggle. The Scherzo in D minor is R's earliest dated composition, but it did not receive its first performance until after his death. The story of the disastrous premiere of the first symphony is well enough known, conducted atrociously by Glazunov whether or not he was drunk as some allege. It was never performed again in the composer's lifetime and was reconstructed from his papers. You will hear its motto theme in the first Symphonic Dance, suggesting that R retained a fondness for it as if for a child who had died. Also here, alas, is the Vocalise in an orchestral arrangement. It might be good Ketelby, but as Rachmaninov it is almost a self-parody. I do not want it in any version, but I am sure this is a good one.

More certain is that the other performances are very good ones indeed. The three discs were recorded during the 90's, the first disc being the last recorded, from 1999. The recording of the first symphony seems less vivid than the sound the other two are given, this being more a matter of curiosity to me than criticism. Perhaps the decision was to darken the sound slightly, and understandably if so.
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