Rachmaninov Symphony No 2 CD review – ebullient and coherent

Litton/Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra
(BIS)

Rachmaninov’s Second Symphony is often accused of being gargantuan, schmaltzy and overblown. In Andrew Litton’s new recording with the Bergen Philharmonic, it sounds gargantuan, schmaltzy – and just blown enough, if you like your Rachmaninov big and extrovert. Litton makes it work, perhaps because underneath the sumptuousness, the music’s moving parts remain rhythmic and light on their feet; perhaps because he seems able to see past the work’s vastness even while he revels in it. The recording marks the end of his 12-year tenure with the Bergen, and the orchestra gleams under his baton. The woozy violin slides between notes in the first and third movements won’t be to everyone’s taste, by any means, and they are perhaps a little doggedly over-applied, but Litton wraps everything up in an ebullient and coherent finale. There’s also Lyadov’s miniature tone poem The Enchanted Lake – a delicate, translucent score, vividly played.

Contributor

Erica Jeal

The GuardianTramp

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