RACHMANINOFF: The Isle of the Dead; Symphonic Dances – London Philharmonic Orchestra/ Vladimir Jurowski – LPO

by | Aug 9, 2006 | SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

RACHMANINOFF: The Isle of the Dead; Symphonic Dances – London Philharmonic Orchestra/ Vladimir Jurowski – LPO – 0004 (Distr. by Harmonia mundi), 59:25 ***:

Recorded live in 2003 and 2004 in Royal Festival Hall, London in 4.1 surround and stereo, this is part of a continuing SACD series from another of the world’s great orchestras.  The dynamic range is immense – don’t turn up your level too high at the super-low volume of the opening to Isle of the Dead, or you and your speakers may be in for a painful surprise.  Jurowski and his players play out the work for all its morbidity – a fine example of Rachmaninoff’s dark side. The cover photo obviously refers to the original Böcklin painting which so inspired Rachmaninoff.  But it’s not the painting. This is:

 
 
The Symphonic Dances have been one of my personal favorites of the composer since I first heard them. A more optimistic mood and dancelike nature makes this work appealing. They have received a number of recent recordings and I was especially impressed with the one back in June from another symphony’s live SACD series – the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra.

I have to observe that Jurowski’s effort doesn’t match either the sparkling and exciting performance of Jansons on the RCO disc or the sonics – which are richer with a wider and deeper soundstage than the LPO surround recording achieves.

 – John Sunier

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