Gianandrea Noseda

Rachmaninoff: Symphony No. 1; The Isle of the Dead; Youth Symphony

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Good but not great, this disc joining Rachmaninov's The Isle of the Dead, Youth Symphony, and First Symphony will be at first welcomed by fans of the composer, but it may ultimately be disappointing. Certainly, the competition for Gianandrea Noseda and the BBC Philharmonic in the two main pieces here is quite stiff. With such classic recordings of The Isle of the Dead like the overwhelming by Reiner and the Chicago Symphony readily available, Noseda and the BBC's well-played and respectful but not wholly emotionally engaged reading does not measure up. And with so many power-packed performances of the First Symphony, like Ashkenazy's with the Concertgebouw Orchestra's in the catalog, this direct but not entirely energized account comes off as an also-ran. The rarely recorded Youth Symphony is more impressive as a performance, but the work itself is so manifestly derived from Tchaikovsky's means and methods that the performance perforce is hardly compelling. Chandos has given the BBC an honest and straightforward recording, but it is nowhere near as impressive as RCA's lush stereo sound for the Chicago or Decca's sumptuous digital sound for the Concertgebouw.

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