This is the 11th recording for Telarc the young member of the very musical Järvi family has made with his orchestra, and the label has a way of presenting the Cincinnatiites sonically that fully equals their Cleveland counterparts. The sumptuous strings in this new release sound like the famed Philadelphia strings. Rachmaninoff’s most popular symphony is known for the extremely romantic theme of its slow movement and its use thruout of a simple figure of a note followed by another just a half-step lower. Its design is almost Franckian cyclical, and perhaps that’s why it’s popular even with concert music newbies, a la the Symphony in d minor. (Ah hah, another opportunity to relate my tale of the tapespondence pal – remember tapespondence? – who spoke excitedly about his purchase of a knockout LP by “Cesar Frank and his Symphony.”)
True, the Second abounds in the expected very dark, very Russian Rachmaninoff moping-about, but it’s also full of some wonderfully lyrical tunes. A large work, yet it doesn’t seem overextended, especially in the glorious surround Telarc has provided for the Cincinnati musicians. Aleko was an early opera of Rachmaninoff, concerning a relationship between a wealthy young scion and a gypsy girl. The filler excerpts are two lively dances showing, also as expected, a gypsy influence.
– John Sunier