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Live recordings of the London Symphony Orchestra

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Vaughan Williams: Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis

Vaughan Williams: Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis


Britten:

Variations on a theme of Frank Bridge, Op. 10

Elgar:

Introduction & Allegro for strings, Op. 47

Vaughan Williams:

Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis


LSO String Ensemble, Roman Simovic

The LSO counts the finest orchestral players among its members and many of its principals are renowned soloists in their own right. They have developed new ensembles within the Orchestra to hone their incredible musicianship in different ways: from recent recordings of Reich by the LSO Percussion Ensemble to unique chamber performances of Stravinsky's 'The Soldier’s Tale' and Mozart's 'Gran Partita'. The LSO String Ensemble, directed by Orchestra Leader Roman Simovic, are a key example of this practice, showcasing the wealth of talent that the London Symphony Orchestra has to offer.

Following two well-received releases, the LSO String Ensemble continues on LSO Live with three English masterpieces: Vaughan Williams' 'Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis', a visionary fusion of folksong and sacred music; Britten's 'Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge', a challenging landmark of 20th-century string writing, here in a virtuosic performance; and Elgar's 'Introduction and Allegro', a work beloved of the LSO, having been composed for and premiered by the Orchestra.

"Delightfully sweet-toned lyricism, and an easy, smiling virtuosity". The Daily Telegraph on Roman Simovic. An acclaimed soloist, performing at many of the world’s most prestigious venues, Roman Simovic has awarded prizes at numerous international competitions, placing him among the foremost violinists of his generation. He says of these pieces: "it’s a big challenge for me to perform this wonderful English programme with an English orchestra. The LSO has a really special, unique, sound and to produce this standing up without a conductor, well it’s quite a challenge! But my fellow players are all fantastic musicians with huge knowledge and I think people more and more are looking forward to our concerts, because it’s something really special: real chamber music."

“Clean-heeled athleticism and rhythmic spring” Gramophone Magazine, February 2017

“The playing is outstanding, and the textures brim with life and, and, in a great performance of Britten’s Frank Bridge Variations, which bounds off the page with spectacular characterisation, sheer energy.” Herald Scotland, 6th January 2017

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Rachmaninov: Symphony No. 1

Rachmaninov: Symphony No. 1


Balakirev:

Symphonic Poem 'Tamara'

Rachmaninov:

Symphony No. 1 in D minor, Op. 13


Rachmaninov’s music reveals Gergiev at his very best and this LSO Live cycle of the complete symphonies has received widespread acclaim. The LSO are clearly at ease with these challenging works, earning a Gramophone Editor's Choice with Symphony No. 2 for its "warm and irresistibly propulsive [performance] ...‘Andrew Marriner’s almost introverted account of the great clarinet solo is beautifully accompanied, a real heart-stopper."

Symphony No 3, coupled with Balakirev’s Russia, was also well-reviewed by critics and received featured airplay on BBC Radio 3 along with 5* reviews from both BBC Music Magazine and Classic FM. Completing the cycle, Gergiev conducts Symphony No. 1, coupled with another Russian masterpiece, Balakirev’s 'Tamara'.

Rachmaninov’s First Symphony has a somewhat chequered history, in no small part due to a, quite possibly, drunk Glazunov conducting the first performance. However, it is now seen as a vibrant depiction of Russian civilisation and culture, recognised for its fluid longing and expressive features.

Balakirev was a member of Russia’s ‘Mighty Handful’, and 'Tamara' is widely considered his greatest work - a sensuous and melodic work influenced by exotic and oriental culture, popular in the music of 19th-century Russia. Aside from Rachmaninov’s symphonies, Gergiev and the LSO have also recorded the composer’s popular 'Symphonic Dances' for LSO Live. Charting at #7 in the UK Specialist Classical Charts, it makes a beautiful addition to the cycle: "How beautifully blended and responsive they [LSO] are under Gergiev’s direction … there is much to enjoy here, not least an orchestra that is at the very top of its game under its charismatic conductor." International Record Review

“This release completes a superb Rachmaninov symphony cycle…a taut, gripping account, Gergiev often pushing the accelerator…strings dig in hard but are also capable of sugary sweetness and sighing…the LSO brass swagger infectiously in the bombastic finale, and demonic forces are at play in the cataclysmic tam-tam clashes in the symphony’s closing bars” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2016

“The LSO plays, as always, splendidly for Valery Gergiev. The general excellence and detail of their performance is remarkable.” BBC Music Magazine, December 2016 ****

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Berlioz: Roméo et Juliette, Op. 17

Berlioz: Roméo et Juliette, Op. 17


Read Presto's complete review of this disc here.

Released in the year of Shakespeare’s 400th anniversary, Valery Gergiev and London Symphony Orchestra are joined by soloists Olga Borodina, Kenneth Tarver and Evgeny Nikitin for Berlioz' 'Roméo et Juliette', recorded live at the Barbican Hall in November 2013. Part of a major series of eight concerts, this work toured to venues in the Czech Republic, Germany, Austria and France. A large-scale ‘symphonie dramatique’, 'Roméo et Juliette' was the fruit of the composer’s dual fascination with Shakespeare and with the actress Harriet Smithson, whom he was later to marry. Using the story of the star-crossed lovers as a starting point, Shakespeare’s passion and drama is deftly portrayed through his music, as well as through the abundance of lyrical poetry, written by French poet Émile Deschamps.

Grammy-award winning mezzo-soprano Olga Borodina is a star of the Mariinsky Theatre, regularly appearing at major opera houses and with great orchestras around the world. Borodina made her highly acclaimed European debut at Covent Garden, in 1992, sharing the stage with Plácido Domingo in 'Samson et Dalila' – a performance that launched her international solo career as one of the most sought after mezzos for her repertoire.

Kenneth Tarver is considered one of the outstanding tenore-di-grazia of his time. He has appeared at the most prestigious opera houses and concert halls around the world specialising in Mozart and challenging, oratorio repertoire. He has appeared on previous LSO Live recordings, notably 'Les Troyens' conducted by Sir Colin Davis. Bass-baritone Evgeny Nikitin trained at the St Petersburg State Conservatory, graduating in 1997. He has been described as "physically, vocally, a complete star" by The Independent. His first solo performances were with the Mariinsky Orchestra and have been followed by invitations to perform across the world. His discography includes other recordings with Valery Gergiev, including 'Parsifal' on the Mariinsky Label.

“The centrepiece of the work is the Scène d'amour, and the LSO strings play with absolutely ravishing tone here: hushed and barely audible one moment, ardently surging the next. I think it's here that Gergiev's experience in the opera house really comes into play, as he knows just how to pace a long dramatic stretch like this one...[at the end] Gergiev strikes just the right note of noble optimism without spilling over into vulgarity.” James Longstaffe, Presto Classical, 8th July 2016

“Gergiev directs a red-hot performance here with the LSO and London Symphony Chorus, augmented by the fresh-sounding Guildhall School Singers (as semi-chorus), with soloists Olga Borodina (mezzo-soprano), Kenneth Tarver (tenor) and bass-baritone Evgeny Nikitin. It’s a strong team performance, driven by earthy passion.” The Scotsman, 27th July 2016

“Gergiev, in this live account, inclines towards operatic fire and pace, occasionally headlong, but with a clarity and hushed, atmospheric pianissimo finely captured by the spacious SACD recording.” BBC Music Magazine, October 2016 ****

“Gergiev is still on bold ground here. He does nothing to efface David’s legacy, and one can even hear echoes of the late master’s characteristic warmth in ‘Romeo seul’ … try the flutes of Adam Walker and Alex Jakeman in the love scene, descending like cherubs, or Andrew Marriner’s sublime clarinet entry as Juliet arises from her slumber, barely audible, barely breathed, a quiet ray of hope.” Gramophone Magazine, October 2016

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Rachmaninov: Vespers, Op. 37

Rachmaninov: Vespers, Op. 37


In their first LSO Live solo release, the London Symphony Chorus deliver a passionate performance of Rachmaninov’s 'All-Night Vigil', under the baton of acclaimed LSO Choral Director, Simon Halsey. Formed in 1966 to complement the work of the LSO, 2016 sees the London Symphony Chorus celebrate its 50th Anniversary as one of the UK’s most well-established choirs. Made up of over 160 amateur singers from all walks of life, the Chorus has recorded widely for LSO Live, the partnership resulting in several award-winning releases - including three Grammy Awards, received for Berlioz' 'Les Troyens' and Verdi's ' Falstaff'.

Hauntingly beautiful, the 'All-Night Vigil' or 'Vespers' is a cornerstone of the choral repertoire, its 15 a cappella movements considered amongst the composer’s finest achievements. Composed in 1915, against a backdrop of political turmoil in Russia and the early throes of The First World War, the sense of spiritual transcendence in the work may be interpreted as the composer’s response to the chaos and suffering around him. While Rachmaninov was no conventional believer, the rituals and traditions of the Orthodox Church were an essential part of his cultural background, evident in his use of chants from the Russian Church as the basis for ten of the work’s fifteen sections. For the remaining five, Rachmaninov composed entirely new music, though these are so heavily influenced by tradition that it is near impossible to tell the difference.

Throughout the Vespers, Rachmaninov’s immense compositional skill is on display - exploring a variety of textures, timbres, rhythms and registers, all of which are beautifully handled by the Choir and Simon Halsey.

Sharing choral music with the community is a key mission for the London Symphony Chorus and in 2015 Halsey prepared LSO Discovery and Community Choirs for the UK premiere of Jonathan Dove’s children’s opera 'The Monster in the Maze'. Halsey and the LSC will continue this community work in 2016, with the world premiere of another children’s opera 'The Hogboon', conducted by Sir Simon Rattle and performed in memory of its composer, the late Sir Peter Maxwell Davies.

“The London Symphony Chorus, under Simon Halsey, show not only evidence of great familiarity with the performing and recorded tradition of the work in terms of pacing and rhetoric, but also an injection of peculiarly British choral timbre, which brings a welcome and different perspective.” Gramophone Magazine, September 2016

“The Chorus’s merits are well known in the concert hall and on other notable LSO Live CDs … but even by their standards this recording of Rachmaninoff’s All Night Vigil is something of a jewel.” Choir & Organ, November/December 2016

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Reich: Clapping Music & other works

Reich: Clapping Music & other works

Recorded live, in DSD 128fs, at LSO St Luke’s, London 30th October 2015


Reich:

Clapping Music

Music for Pieces of Wood

Sextet


Neil Percy

LSO Percussion Ensemble

LSO Live explore the music of America’s most influential living composer with performances of three of his most iconic works: 'Sextet', 'Clapping Music' and 'Music for Pieces of Wood'. Employing Reich’s universally recognisable sound world, 'Sextet' uses hypnotic repetitions of a sequence of harmonies, which gradually overlap and interweave, resulting in a complex yet utterly compelling musical landscape. Introducing more dissonance and aggressive rhythms than previous compositions, the relationship of the five movements is that of an arch form, A-B-C-B-A. Changes of tempo are made abruptly at the beginning of new movements by metric modulation and sections are also organised harmonically with a chord cycle for the first and fifth. Reich says of the work, "The ambiguity here is between which is melody and which is accompaniment. In music that uses a great deal of repetition, I believe it is precisely these kinds of ambiguity that give vitality and life."

Composed in 1972, 'Clapping Music' strips back to the bare essentials, taking traditional African rhythms as its starting point. Conceived from a desire to compose music "that would need no instrument beyond the human body" it is perhaps the most elemental example of phasing in the composer’s catalogue. The whole work consists of a single rhythmic cell which becomes staggered as the work progresses, creating an entrancing and hypnotic effect. Having previously performed the work with the composer, Neil Percy delivers an inspired performance alongside his LSO Co-Principal, Sam Walton.

'Music for Pieces of Wood' takes this concept a step further, adding pitches, in the form of claves tuned A, B, C#, D# and D# an octave above. The claves are chosen for their resonant timbre and the piece is one of the loudest the composer has written, despite using no amplification whatsoever.

Neil Percy, LSO Principal Percussionist and Ensemble Director, says of his relationship with these pieces and the composer: "The thing I enjoy most about playing the music of Steve Reich is its diversity, its complexity, its challenging nature… We’ve played so many pieces of Steve’s over the years with him being present, so it’s got a very personal set of challenges that I find completely irresistible. That’s why, on this particular project for LSO Live, we tried to put together a programme that reflected all of the pieces that the group themselves really like to play."

Neil Percy, Ensemble Director, has enjoyed 20 years as Principal Percussionist of the London Symphony Orchestra and 12 years as Head of the Timpani and Percussion at the Royal Academy of Music. During this time, he has worked closely with many major artists and conductors and as a soloist with Steve Reich, Sir Colin Davis, Pierre Boulez, Karl Jenkins, Ravi Shankar, Kent Nagano and Elgar Howarth.

“The beauty of the LSO Percussion Ensemble’s performance is in its delicate, almost tactile sound, the various textures – some sensual, others more metallic – kept crystal clear, the music’s constant rhythmic course occasionally shifting, crab-like, off centre.” Classical Ear, 15th June 2016

“Pieces of Wood is given an excellent rendition on this live recording, as if the precise mechanism of a complex clock had been carefully deconstructed before being pieced back together. The LSO percussion’s performance of Sextet (1985) also builds up in energy and momentum to a quite thrilling climax.” Gramophone Magazine, September 2016

“The LSO Percussion Ensemble’s riveting recording [of Music for Pieces of Wood] has the bonus of being live. Moreover, they take it very fast indeed…and accomplish it brilliantly. I’ve found Sextet heavy and congested in the past: not here. They achieve a wonderfully transparent weave through which the bowed marimba notes shine like rays of light through water.” BBC Music Magazine, December 2016

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Scriabin: Symphonies Nos. 1 & 2

Scriabin: Symphonies Nos. 1 & 2


Scriabin:

Symphony No. 1 in E major

Symphony No. 2 in C minor, Op. 29


Ekaterina Sergeeva (mezzo-soprano) & Alexander Timchenko (tenor)

London Symphony Orchestra & London Symphony Chorus, Valery Gergiev

Valery Gergiev and the London Symphony Orchestra bring to a close their revelatory Scriabin cycle with the release of Symphonies 1 & 2.

Epic in scope, Scriabin’s highly original First Symphony was composed at the turn of the twentieth century. The ambitious work consists of six movements, the last of which features a chorus and two vocal soloists, beautifully sung in this recording by Ekaterina Sergeeva, Alexander Timchenko and the London Symphony Chorus. In the monumental choral finale, which brings the symphony to a rousing conclusion, Scriabin uses a text of his own composition to praise the supreme power of art: ‘Come, all peoples of the world, Let us sing the praises of Art! Glory to Art, Glory forever!’

Premiered two years after Symphony No 1, the Second Symphony contains echoes of Strauss, Tchaikovsky and Wagner, alongside Scriabin’s deeply personal sound. While relatively more restrained in style than the composer's other symphonic output, over the course of its five movements there are sweeping climaxes, swirling colours and passages of majestic intensity, with a brooding Andante opening continuing without pause into a fervent second movement.

A mezzo-soprano born in St Petersburg, Ekaterina Sergeeva has been a soloist with the Mariinsky Academy of Young Singers since 2005, after graduating from the St Petersburg Conservatory. In 2009 Ekaterina sang the part of Elektra’s Trainbearer, which she recorded with Valery Gergiev and the London Symphony Orchestra for LSO Live. Her accolades include prizes at both the 2008 International Zara Dolukhanova Amber Nightingale Competition and 2006 International Lisitsian Competition, as well as a Diploma for best performance of a contemporary work from the 2006 International Rimsky-Korsakov Competition.

Tenor Alexander Timchenko was born in Leningrad and graduated from the Glinka Choral School of the St Petersburg State Academic Capella in 1993, continuing his studies at the St Petersburg Conservatory. He performed the role of Shepherd in Stravinsky Oedipus rex with Valery Gergiev and the LSO in 2012, and has also featured on recordings including Stravinsky Les Noces with the Mariinsky Orchestra & Chorus, conducted by Valery Gergiev, 2010

“[Gergiev has] the measure of the music’s fluidity and its surges of passion and hedonistic repose…and the London Symphony Chorus in excellent form for the crowning paean to art. The Second Symphony benefits from some enchanted solo playing…and altogether finds Gergiev and the LSO exploring the music’s sinew and its emotional flux” Gramophone Magazine, July 2016

“This must be one of the final recordings from Valery Gergiev as the London Symphony Orchestra’s Principal Conductor, and it is an impressive farewell … Gergiev goes for atmosphere, and delivers engaging and stimulating readings.. The London Symphony Orchestra is on top form throughout.” Classical Ear, 1st July 2016

“there’s a great sense of freedom in this music that Gergiev manages to create ... Gergiev’s volatility really works in this Scriabin.” CD Review, 9th July 2016

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Schubert: Death and the Maiden & Shostakovich: Chamber Symphony in C Minor

Schubert: Death and the Maiden & Shostakovich: Chamber Symphony in C Minor


Schubert:

String Quartet No. 14 in D minor, D810 'Death and the Maiden'

arr. Mahler

Shostakovich:

Chamber Symphony in C minor, Op. 110a


LSO String Ensemble, Roman Simovic

The LSO String Ensemble, led by LSO leader Roman Simovic, gives magnificent performances of Schubert (arr Mahler) and Shostakovich. This is the second LSO String Ensemble release on LSO Live, following the acclaimed recording of Tchaikovsky's 'Serenade for Strings' and Bartók's 'Divertimento'. Schubert s 'Death and the Maiden' Quartet, heard here in Mahler s stunning arrangement, is one of the most popular pieces in the repertoire. The original Quartet was written soon after Schubert had suffered from a significant period of illness, and some have speculated that it is the composer s testament to death. The piece gains its title from the second movement, which is a set of five variations based on the melody of one of Schubert s most poignant songs, Death and the Maiden, in which a girl struggles against the terror of impending death, that grisly man of bone , who casts himself as a welcome friend. The Chamber Symphony in C minor is an arrangement for string orchestra of Shostakovich s String Quartet No 8, prepared with the composer s approval by the violist, conductor, and founder of the Moscow Chamber Orchestra, Rudolf Barshai. Shostakovich s Eighth Quartet was written over just three days in 1960 and the composer, deeply depressed at that time, initially intended it to be his last work. The piece is full of quotations that hold a deeply personal significance, including a motif from Tchaikovsky s 'Pathétique' Symphony, and references to several of Shostakovich s own works. Most strikingly, Shostakovich s initials DSCH are embedded throughout the entire work, giving the piece an intensely personal musical fingerprint. This performance was recorded live at the Barbican on 26 April 2015 as part of the LSO International Violin Festival. The LSO String Ensemble were filmed in 360 VR during this performance and this footage will be used to support the release of this hybrid SACD.

“Roman Simovic has a tendency to launch phrases with a penetrating sniff but secures characterful and energetic results, the very occasional imprecision let through in the interests of emotional electricity” Gramophone Magazine, April 2016

“You cannot fault the impressive ensemble sound, the fabulous playing, or the unanimity of purpose...The LSO’s string playing with leader-violinist Roman Simovic is out of this world in almost every respect, from polish to immediacy of impact.” Herald Scotland, 22nd April 2016

“The current performance is as fine as any, tense and detailed.” Classical Music, May 2016

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Scriabin: Symphonies Nos. 3 & 4

Scriabin: Symphonies Nos. 3 & 4


Scriabin:

Symphony No. 3 in C minor, Op. 43 'The Divine Poem'

Symphony No. 4 - 'Le Poème de l'extase', Op. 54


Valery Gergiev conducts revelatory performances of Scriabin’s Symphony No 3 ‘The Divine Poem’ and Symphony No 4, ‘The Poem of Ecstasy’. This marks the first in a new cycle of Scriabin symphonies, and one of the most significant of all Valery Gergiev’s projects with the London Symphony Orchestra, released during his final tenure as LSO Principal Conductor. Anyone with musical curiosity will welcome the chance to explore such an idiosyncratic composer.

Scriabin’s Symphony No 3 was composed not long after the composer had arrived at a philosophy that exalted the individual ego and the senses. The piece, which has also been referred to as a tone poem in three movements, was Scriabin’s attempt to give expression to the evolution of the human spirit. For Scriabin, the finale of his Third Symphony marked a significant moment in his development as a composer, and he wrote that "this was the first time I found light in music… the first time I knew intoxication, flight, the breathlessness of happiness". By 1906 Scriabin had published a poem which set out the ‘philosophical programme’ of a work, which was to become his Fourth Symphony. The work’s title refers to an artistic ecstasy, which is expressed in the music through a beautifully coloured sound-world and harmonic fluidity, culminating in the final section with the revelation of C major. Scriabin was influenced by synesthesia, and associated colours with the various harmonic tones of his atonal scale, while his colour-coded circle of fifths was also influenced by theosophy. Valery Gergiev says of the composer: "Scriabin is a great Russian composer… He’s clearly a composer with his own voice, from his own world. Scriabin came up with very much his own sonority and his ability to hear different colours was legendary. Scriabin should be today understood as a man who was able to create a wonderfully magical musical world, and we just have to give in. We have to be imprisoned by these compositions and the magical powers of the creator."

“Gergiev has clearly taken a fresh look at the Third Symphony's score, driving to the first movement's first climax without the usual (unmarked) dramatic pause; the pay-off comes with an all the more shocking and powerful second climax” BBC Music Magazine, February 2016 ****

“Sorcerer of sound, [Gergiev] succeeds in captivating colour blends, beautiful details, and reaches a rare sensuality…the seductive power in his gesture keeps us in suspense from one end to the other of Symphony No. 3” Diapason

“There’s no lack of character…The second movement’s reprise of the Jewish-inflected dance from the Second Piano Trio rages full-bloodedly…the recollection of Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk (broadly placed and beautifully played by Tim Hugh) emerges as the heart of the piece…[Simovic] secures characterful and energetic results.” Gramophone Magazine

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Maxwell Davies & Panufnik: Symphonies No. 10

Maxwell Davies & Panufnik: Symphonies No. 10


Davies, Peter Maxwell:

Symphony No. 10 'Alla ricerca di Borromini'

Markus Butter (baritone)

London Symphony Chorus

Panufnik, A:

Symphony No. 10


LSO Live presents the world premiere recording of Sir Peter Maxwell Davies’s architectural 10th Symphony, alongside Sir Andrzej Panufnik’s Symphony No 10. This release showcases two of the 20th century’s most iconic symphonic composers, paired together here by their 10th Symphonies. Regarded as one of the foremost composers of our time, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies has made a significant contribution to musical history through his wide-ranging and prolific output. Commissioned by the LSO and described by the composer as "the wildest music I’ve ever written", Symphony No. 10 tells the story of 17th century architect Francesco Borromini, who suffered much criticism for his idiosyncratic buildings and tragically committed suicide. Borromini’s architectural and mathematical principles permeate the symphony, a work that speaks of creativity, life, death and renewal.

Conductor Sir Antonio Pappano has spoken of his admiration for the piece and its composer: "When he described the piece to me and its dramatic content then I was drawn very strongly to it. Max wrote most of this piece in hospital. He was diagnosed with leukemia and was undergoing treatment for a long period of time, so the piece is very strong with tremendous pathos… it gives the piece a power and a sureness of knowledge."

As with many of his other works, Panufnik’s succinct offering is influenced by geometry – the Fibonacci series in this instance. The sym-phony achieves its supreme sound quality through the combination of various groups of instruments, with Panufnik allowing each grouping to convey humanity and an intense, profound musicianship. This recording was made during Panufnik’s Centenary year and supported by the Adam Mickiewicz Institute.

“Highly charged fervour animates the symphony’s discourse on creativity.” Financial Times, 28th August 2015

“this is a well-prepared and satisfying performance and remarkably accurate for such a complex work … the chorus and orchestra are quite brilliant...I had not thought of Pappano as interested in championing new works and was very pleased with his assured conducting and obvious commitment.” MusicWeb International, September 2015

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Rachmaninov: Symphony No. 3 & Balakirev: Russia

Rachmaninov: Symphony No. 3 & Balakirev: Russia


Balakirev:

Symphonic Poem 'Russia'

Rachmaninov:

Symphony No. 3 in A minor, Op. 44


Following his acclaimed LSO Live recordings of Rachmaninov’s Symphony No 2 and 'Symphonic Dances', Valery Gergiev conducts a scintillating performance of the powerfully emotional Symphony No 3, framed with a work by one of the Mighty Five: Balakirev’s 'Russia'. Rachmaninov’s third and final symphony was composed nearly 20 years after the composer’s emigration from his homeland. Often considered to be his most overtly Russian symphony, Rachmaninov makes subtle use of a motto theme which appears throughout the work and can be heard in the finale as a variant of the Dies Irae plainchant – a melodic tag used in Rachmaninov’s music as a dark reminder of mortality.

'Russia', an epic symphonic poem, is a reworking of an Overture on Russian Themes, collected during Balakirev’s expedition up through the Volga. It was composed in 1864 and is based on three folksongs – a slow wedding song and two round-dances which are varied, fragmented and combined throughout the piece. Gergiev's Rachmaninov cycle is due for completition in Spring 2016.

“The band is on its best form, the playing imbued with affection and nostalgia as well as verve and drive.” Sunday Times, 9th August 2015

“Gergiev's view is dark and stormy, his relatively slow pacing undercut by so many lugubrious inflections that the piece loses its overall shape.” Gramophone Magazine, September 2015

“Gergiev and the LSO capture the score's expressive beauty, and also the sense of its transience as chill winter encroaches” BBC Music Magazine, December 2015

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