Dmitry Yablonsky / Farhad Badalbeyli / Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

Rachmaninov: Symphony No. 2; Vocalise

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On this 2011 release, Dmitry Yablonsky and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra present Sergey Rachmaninov's Symphony No. 2 in E minor with remarkable lucidity, depth, and richness, and give this popular work the color and vitality it deserves. This is passionate music, and the sweep of emotions from melancholy to ardor to spirited revelry have made this a perennial favorite, despite various problems of heavy orchestration, which keep this piece in the near-great category. Even at its best, Rachmaninov's scoring is a challenge to make clear because he had a predilection for the low- to middle range and wrote many passages with doublings that add to the impression of excessively thick parts. Yablonsky has an ear for clarity and finds the proper balance of dynamics to make the textures seem somewhat lighter and brighter than expected; he also highlights wherever possible the inner voices, giving the symphony a greater degree of transparency, particularly when the writing is overly lush. The famous Vocalise is offered as filler, and Yablonsky switches roles from conductor to cellist to perform it. Accompanied by pianist Farhad Badalbeyli, Yablonsky plays with a smooth, lyrical line, and gives this song without words a pensive reading. RPO's reproduction is exceptionally vibrant and lifelike, which really helps in the symphony.

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