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Reviews: Rachmaninov: Symphony No. 2 - Gergiev

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Reviews: 4

Site review by Castor April 24, 2010
Performance:   Sonics:  
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Review by jeffreybehr November 16, 2010 (3 of 5 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
I quite enjoyed this performance of one of my desert-island faves.

Tonally, the recording is a bit strange in that the high strings have little harmonics to them--
IOW they're dark sounding, while the trumpets are quite the opposite and bright sounding. It's tough to balance tweeter levels that way. The recording is quite natural and spacious, but there's very little character to the space. It sounds as if it was recorded in a big basketball arena with little sense of reflective walls about the orchestra. I've never been in the Barbicam, but I vaguely recall others commenting about its very-large-but-'dry' sound.

I hear this same kind of large space with little character in the Ondine multichannel recordings of the Philadelphia Orchestra made in their newish Verizon Hall. Pics I've seen show audience seating on balconies around and behind the orchestra, hence with no shell around the orchestra, therefore eliminating the rear-wall reflections that give character to the sound of the hall. A pic of the Barbican... ...shows a rather normal-looking shell around the orchestra, so I don't know why it sounds the way it does.

So...if you don't need much character from your concert hall, this is a fine-sounding recording. If you do, try someone else's Rach. S2, especially Ivan Fisher's.

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Review by sgb October 5, 2013 (7 of 9 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
On the strength of the very positive reviews preceding my own here, I ordered this recording from Amazon last week. I have listened to it three times now, and can agree that in comparison with my favorite performance of the Rach 2nd, this is a very powerful performance. As a warning to those listeners who believe, as I do, that quality sound enhances the music listening experience, though, I felt it important to point out that this recording is one of the two worst sounding I have purchased over the past five years. With regard to the one review at Amazon which points to Gergiev's earlier recording (with Philips, I believe) then describes this newer one as having better sounding percussion in the first movement, I can say only that after three sessions with this disc, I certainly cannot find what he was writing about.

This recording, above all else, is seriously deficient in dynamics and, this is such a mystery since it is an SACD which enables even greater dynamics than conventional CD. Beyond that, the spatial information in it is entirely chaotic; one never knows where the violins will appear, or if the entire orchestra is bunched together in a small room. There's a decide lack of air around the instruments, too, which gives the listener that the recording is being played through a small table radio rather than a high quality audio system. My experience with LSO recordings is not all that expansive, but I can say that none of the others I have sounds anything like this one. BUYER BEWARE!

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Review by Luukas January 24, 2014 (1 of 2 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
Gergiev conducts Rachmaninov's Second Symphony with passion and very, very emotionally. He reads Rachmaninov's masterful score very well, and London Symphony Orchestra plays magnificent. First movement's sadly theme and second hopeful major theme have been performed very beautifully. There is timpani's strike at the end (it isn't in symphony's full score). Second movement is very good: strings beautiful theme is attractive. Glockenspiel's melodies are bright. Third movement's (Adagio) famous clarinet theme isn't so good, it sounds quiet. The whole movement is very effective and passionately. I like it very much. Contrabasses' pizzicatos are deep - watch out your subwoofer... The last, fourth movement is this performance's best: strings long dreamy theme is excellent. Movement's (and symphony's end) is stunning and powerful: bass drum's strikes and music's triumphantly climax is amazing! Unfortunately, 5.1 multichannel recording isn't very good (it is humming and loudly), but I still like this. This is marvelous performance of Romantic music's masterwork. If you want budget price SACD of this work, this really works! Outstanding.

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