Symphony No.2 in E minor, Op.27
The Rock, Op.7
Recorded in Studio 7, New Broadcasting House, Manchester on 24 November 2008 (The Rock) and 11 & 12 November 2009
Reviewed by: Christian Hoskins
Reviewed: May 2010
CD No: CHANDOS CHAN 10589
Duration: 75 minutes
Gianandrea Noseda’s Rachmaninov series, which so far includes the First Symphony and the operas “Francesca da Rimini” and “The Miserly Knight”, continues with a sumptuous account of the composer’s longest and most accomplished symphony. The beauty of Rachmaninov’s orchestration is emphasised with playing that is both rich and detailed, the clarinet solo in the Adagio not only beguilingly played but also supported by a luminous and seductive web of sound.
The virtues of the performance are undermined, however, by a lack of temperament. Noseda presents the score complete, including the first movement exposition repeat, but his rather literal approach falls short when it comes to communicating the music’s melancholy, zest and ardour. Although Noseda brings a measure of warmth to Rachmaninov’s long melodic lines, this is no match for the additional sweep and passion that conductors including Ashkenazy, Previn and Litton bring to their recordings of the symphony.
The disc also includes a performance of The Rock, a tone poem that Rachmaninov composed in 1893 at the age of 20. It’s a tuneful work that reflects the influence of Tchaikovsky and Rimsky-Korsakov with hints of Rachmaninov’s future style. Noseda invests the score with a freshness that compares favourably with Vasily Petrenko’s performance with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic on Avie.
Chandos’s recording is clear and full bodied, with an unusually wide stereo spread, with groups of instruments very clearly ‘placed’. In the finale of the symphony are a few instances where a stopped horn sounds strongly in the left channel, a somewhat unnatural effect when listening on headphones. The booklet includes a short, informative essay by David Nice.