I used mostly my ears

a blog about music by Marc Haegeman


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Rachmaninoff anthology by Pletnev

Sergei Rachmaninoff: Symphony #1, Op. 13
Symphony #2, Op. 27
Symphony #3, Op. 44
The Rock, Op. 7
The Bells, Op. 35 1,2
The Isle of the Dead, Op. 29 2
Symphonic Dances, Op. 45
Sergei Taneyev: Cantata “John of Damascus”, Op. 12

Marina Mescheriakova, soprano
Sergei Larin, tenor
Vladimir Chernov, baritone
Moscow State Chamber Choir
Russian National Orchestra/Mikhail Pletnev
Deutsche Grammophon 4779505 4CDs DDD

Rachmaninoff

Rachmaninoff anthology by Pletnev

This reissue assembles virtually all major symphonic works of Sergei Rachmaninoff in a 4-CD box – his three symphonies but also his symphonic poems The Rock, The Isle of the Dead, the Symphonic Dances and The Bells (the youth symphony and Prince Rostislav are missing, but instead a rarity from Sergei Taneyev, his cantata John of Damascus, Op. 1, is included as a bonus) and is available at a temptingly competitive price. The discs were recorded and released separately over a time span of almost seven years by Mikhail Pletnev and his Russian National Orchestra. Starting in 1993, it contains some of the pianist-turned-conductor’s earliest efforts on the rostrum.
Read the full review on Classical Net


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Tchaikovsky – Shakespeare

Pyotr Ilyitch Tchaikovsky: Hamlet, Fantasy Overture after Shakespeare, Op. 67
The Tempest, Symphonic Fantasy after Shakespeare, Op. 18
Romeo and Juliet, Fantasy Overture after Shakespeare

Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela/Gustavo Dudamel
Deutsche Grammophon 4779355 DDD 65:35

Gustavo Dudamel

Tchaikovsky – Shakespearian Fantasies

With this trio of Shakespeare-inspired compositions Venezuelan boy wonder Gustavo Dudamel and the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra (the former “Youth” Orchestra has officially grown up) sign their second Tchaikovsky disc for Deutsche Grammophon. Unfortunately it is about as uneven and doubtful as the first (which paired “Francesca da Rimini” with Symphony #5). While the energy and enthusiasm at making music of this ensemble is certainly praiseworthy and may indeed serve as an example to many of the top orchestras, what is still missing here is an overall concept as much as a specific sound which could have pulled these pieces out of the unjustified category of mere sonic spectaculars. It’s not that Dudamel lacks imagination, yet judging by this recording from February 2010 he is as yet unable to frame his ideas and present them into a convincing whole, while his phrasing and tempi changes tend to sound contrived rather than spontaneous.
Read the full review on Classical Net