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  Channel Classics -
  CCS SA 21604
  Rachmaninov: Symphony No. 2, Vocalise No. 14 - Fischer
  Rachmaninov: Symphony No. 2 in E minor Op. 27, Vocalise No. 14 Op. 34

Budapest Festival Orchestra
Ivan Fischer (conductor)
Track listing:
  Classical - Orchestral
Recording type:
Recording info:

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Related titles: 22 show all

Reviews: 8 show all

Review by June 29, 2004 (19 of 22 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
Summary: Fresh, heart-felt, and youthful.
Imprints: Previn and Ashkenazy, also familiar with the Pletnev.

The first thing you'll notice about the opening of the first mov't is the
careful attention to phrasing and dynamics in the strings. While Previn's
and Ashkenazy's strings act as the anonymous but beautiful blowing leaf that
beckons our ears to follow from one scene to the next, (not a bad thing),
Fischer's assert themselves right off; one realizes that this is going to be
a decidedly un-homogenized performance, where every instrumental choir
struts its stuff, unashamedly.

The first and third mov'ts always make or break this symphony for me, being
more freely rhapsodic than the symmetrical 2nd or the Rondo 4th;
conductors have more room to put their stamp on these mov'ts. Ashkenazy has
always been a favorite of mine; I love the way he--with the help of the
Concertgebouw of course!--lets the horn line soar in counterpoint above the
dark velvety string lines. Oh, how he luxuriates, yet holds things together
without awkward gear changes.

The Fischer is very different: the words feverish, impulsive, and clarifying
come to mind, but I want to be careful here-to me such words have always
been code for intellectualization and/or pile-driving ahead at the expense
of voluptuousness. While Pletnev's version, hailed for such "shaking of the
cobwebs," did come off to my ears as simply thin-lipped and expedient,
Fischer's does not-he "shakes" but doesn't miss any of the passing beauties,
thanks to his attention to shading, phrasing, and tempo relationships--I
found myself exhilarated as well as indulged. (I'll always pull out the
Ashkenazy though, when I want to wallow in sheer velvet sheen.)

There are some very lovely turns of phrase in the long-limbed string melody
of the 2nd mov't Allegro, and transitional passages everywhere are invested
with compellingly dark and imaginative hues-opportunities missed by Pletnev,
Previn, and even Ashkenazy. The Finale dances along, capped by a thrilling
and spacious coda. In fact what lingers in my ear overall having listened
to this version was its almost "baroque-like" rhythmic vitality both overt,
(in the 2nd and 4th mov'ts), and underlying, (1st and 3rd). Fischer
remembers what many forget: Rachmaninov, he gots 'da rhythm too. (I hasten
to add that Fischer never impugns Rachmaninov's eroticism and dark-hued
lyricism-the orchestra soars when it has to, and the central climax of the
3rd mov't adagio...well, I'd describe it but we'd all blush.)

This SACD/CD hybrid plays on regular CD players, 2-channel SACD players,
(you'll love how the strings sound), and in SACD 5.0 surround. (No
subwoofer information.) I listened in 4.0 surround, (no center), and it's
very surround-friendly-huge soundstage and great imaging, even with my
imperfect rear speaker placement. (To hear those great percussive accents on
bass drum and cymbal explode from their own space behind the orchestra was
thrilling.) Compared to the Fischer/Dvorak surround recordings on Philips,
the Channel recording came off comparatively less reverberant, but
probably more true to reality, especially if one were sitting in a hall full
of people. Never was the sound less than warm and inviting and the bloom,
(expansion), during climaxes was everything one could wish for. A winner.

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Review by lenw May 10, 2005 (8 of 12 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
This is one of my favorite classical pieces. I've been looking for a replacement for my Telarc Andre Previn RBCD version and this SACD certainly fits the bill. I found the stereo layer of this SACD holographic but the soundstage a bit compressed. The Budapest Festival Orchestra with Ivan Fischer presents this magnificent classical piece beautifully.

The Classics Today review summed up this way "I can't recommend this performance highly enough: everything about it is excellent, and it merits the enthusiastic attention of anyone who cares about top quality music-making presented in state-of-the-art sound" I couldn't agree more.

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Review by peteyspambucket July 5, 2004 (7 of 9 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
This recording is a dream come true. The performance captured here is gorgeous, lyrical, emotional, well-played, beautifully phrased... It's a keeper.

The sound is amazing, and it's just how I like to hear orchestral recordings. Everything is there and the recording is quite transparent.

While the playing isn't perfect, there's a LOT of feeling and that overcomes any errors in precision. The clarinet player in the 3rd movement plays very sensitively and while he doesn't cycle his breathing like some players do, it's still a very sensitive interpretation. I like all the tempi choices that Fischer makes and he makes some very nice portamenti here and there too, which are very exciting.

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Works: 2  

Sergei Rachmaninov - Symphony No. 2 in E minor, Op. 27
Sergei Rachmaninov - Vocalise, Op. 34 No. 14