RACHMANINOV: Symphony No. 2; LYADOV: The Enchanted Lake – Orch. dell’Acccademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia/Antonio Pappano – EMI

by | Apr 26, 2011 | Classical CD Reviews | 0 comments

RACHMANINOV: Symphony No. 2 in E Minor, Op. 27;  LYADOV: The Enchanted Lake, Op. 62 – Orchestra dell’Acccademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia/Antonio Pappano – EMI 9 49462, 66:43 ****:

Recorded in concert in November and December 2009, the two Romantic Russian works herein performed by Antonio Pappano and his Santa Cecilia orchestra come under the auspices of the Rachmaninov Foundation, established in 1999 by the composer’s grandson Alexandre Rachmaninov. The Lyadov Enchanted Lake (1909), first touted as an orchestral showpiece by Serge Koussevtizky, combines the transparently erotic sensibilities of Wagner and Debussy, touched by a hint of Scriabin. Of the composer’s many orchestral miniatures, The Enchanted Lake casts a magical allure quite singular and forever haunting.
For the past thirty years or so–in this country we can count Leopold Stokowski and Leonard Slatkin among the practitioners–the “uncut” E Minor Symphony of Rachmaninov has gained credence as a standard performing version, despite its occasional redundancy of phrase and what one critic calls “consummate note-spinning.” The symphony corroborates Rachmaninov’s affinity for nostalgia as his dominant affect, but the sheer melodic invention–coupled with any number of Wagner references and harmonic progressions from Tristan–makes it an hour lyrically well spent. The innately vocal quality of the melodies has made at least one popular song from the content of the third movement Adagio.
Perhaps the most inventive movement remains the bristling and colorful Scherzo under Pappano, a vigorously energetic interlude between grand arias, alluding to the ubiquitous Dies Irae and highlighting the composer’s polyphonic craft. The success of the scoring–which includes the bright sonority of the glockenspiel–has its best testimony in the fact that Rachmaninov cloned its riffs for his Symphonic Dances, Op. 45. Besides the unceasing melodic flow of the Adagio, the dialogue work in the oboe and English horn contribute to the autumnal effect of self-indulgent, expansive melancholy. Curiously, it is clarinetist Alessandro Carbonare who receives credit. Martial and exuberant in the manner of the earlier Scherzo, and even under the strictures of sonata-form, the Finale resonates with a blazing confidence–especially in the brass–that harkens back to Rimsky-Korsakov’s triumphs rather than to Tchaikovsky’s fateful gloom. Pappano milks his forces so that after the boisterous opening, the secondary melody oozes sincerity. A fine rendition, the Pappano will stand against the modern readings by Slatkin and Previn for its largesse, brilliant execution, and emotional sympathy, while even the classic performances like that of Kurt Sanderling would be proud to share its spotlight.
— Gary Lemco

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