Valery Gergiev / London Symphony Orchestra

Rachmaninov: Symphonic Dances; Stravinsky: Symphony in Three Movements

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At first glance, the pairing of Sergey Rachmaninov's Symphonic Dances and Igor Stravinsky's Symphony in Three Movements might seem like a stylistic mismatch, since the post-Romantic composer and the neo-classicist seem to have had little in common, apart from their shared Russian nationality and heritage. Yet there is a meeting place between these compositions, because Symphonic Dances is the most modernist-leaning of Rachmaninov's works and fully oriented toward the dance, while the Symphony in Three Movements shows Stravinsky in his familiar ballet mode, which is apparent despite a formal structure that barely qualifies as a symphony. Add to this the use of ostinato in both works, and the emphasis on strong, muscular rhythmic development, and the differences between the composers become less pronounced. Valery Gergiev leads the London Symphony Orchestra in these live performances, and few other conductors could bring out the works' boldness and energy, and even pugnacity, in the same way. Forceful and robust, Gergiev and the LSO are nearly obsessive in keeping the rhythms precise, and their attention to the music's pulse and propulsion gives this live album its spontaneity and excitement. Presented in the super audio format, the sound is crisp and detailed, though somewhat lacking in presence and dimensions.

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