This series of live recordings was made at the 2007 Rachmaninov Festival in Sydney and features one of the foremost interpreters of Rachmaninov’s music, the conductor and pianist Vladimir Ashkenazy. Since 2008 Ashkenazy has been Principal Conductor and Artistic Adviser of the orchestra which appeared in these performances, the Sydney Symphony. This CD set, which contains all of the composer’s symphonies and orchestral works, also includes session recordings produced at the same time which have never been previously heard.
Rachmaninov himself stated “In my own compositions, no conscious effort has been made to be original or Romantic or Nationalistic or anything else. I write down on paper the music that I hear within me as naturally as possible. What I try to do in my music is to make it say simply and directly what is in my heart when I am composing.”
In the years since Vladimir Ashkenazy first came to prominence on the world stage in the 1955 Chopin Competition in Warsaw he has not only become one of the most revered pianists of our times, but also a renowned music director and conductor. Conducting has formed the largest part of his activities for the past 20 years and, following on from his period as Chief Conductor of the Czech Philharmonic from 1998 to 2003, Ashkenazy took up the position of Music Director of NHK Symphony Orchestra in Tokyo in September 2004. He continues to have a warm and rewarding relationship with London’s Philharmonia Orchestra as their Conductor Laureate, as well as maintaining strong links with a number of other major orchestras, including the Cleveland Orchestra, the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, and the Deutsches Symphonie Orchester, Berlin.
“there is an advantage to hearing a leaner account of [the Second Symphony]; and Ashkenazy's pacing of it makes us welcome the first-movement repeat. Horns, both stopped and open, lend urgency to dramatic moments”
“For me the set's plum has to be the Second Symphony, which I found utterly engrossing in its natural ebb and flow (Ashkenazy's control of rubato is as organic as it is shapely), tender vulnerability, unassuming cogency and sheer integrity… …The Isle of the Dead enshrines another deeply compassionate conception, while the hugely involving traversal of the Symphonic Dances leaves the listener in no doubt of Ashkenazy's comprehensive familiarity with, and rapt empathy for, this devastatingly powerful masterpiece.”
“their alacrity of response to the music's technical requirements as well as to Ashkenazy's interpretative convictions should not be doubted.”
Click on any of the works listed above for alternative recordings.