Caprice bohémien, Op.12
Symphony No.3 in A minor, Op.44
Recorded 1 & 3 November 2010 in Studio 7, New Broadcasting House, Manchester
Reviewed by: Colin Anderson
Reviewed: September 2011
CD No: CHANDOS CHAN 10677
Duration: 74 minutes
It’s very easy to have a soft spot for Caprice bohémien, the 20-year-old Rachmaninov’s rhapsodising orchestral showpiece, its moody opening underpinned by timpani – made a crisp and dynamic treat here – and developing (sectionalising) into a colourful, suggestive and dazzling tapestry, if not without some lugubrious and impassioned pages along the Gypsy way. It’s a fascinating and fetching listen, Gianandrea Noseda and BBC Philharmonic luxuriating within its warm embrace and stoking passions to the fiery final bars. The even younger Rachmaninov was not so happy with Prince Rostislav (1891); although he did not disown it, he did not afford it an opus number or seek a performance. Its first public outing occurred in 1945, two years after the composer’s death. If it lacks for distinction it is certainly not short on atmosphere, suggestion and colour. Noseda and the BBC Philharmonic make a potent job of capturing the music’s rich expression and theatrical flourishes.
Come to the Third Symphony and now we really are talking great music. Noseda has conjured a painstaking account of it, so important when the orchestration is as sophisticated and breathtaking as this, and he is also so inside the work’s gamut of emotions. The playing is completely assured (virtuosic and responsive) in what is a challenging work to properly bring off. This is a stimulating and deeply moving performance to match with the best (Previn’s first version, RCA, for example, and not forgetting Golovanov’s diversity with it), capturing the music’s soul and brilliance with a convincing impulsiveness that brings this fantastic score to engrossing life, its beauty, turmoil and scintillation vividly brought out with sear and sensitivity. One can quibble with the occasional balance or tempo, but this would be nit-picking and curmudgeonly when so much is got right and made riveting.
To complete a release of the highest rank and with production values to match, Stephen Rinker has engineered some of the finest sound to emerge from Studio 7 – it is the audiophile icing on a gloriously impressive musical cake.