Valer Sabadus / Dmitri Kitayenko / Gürzenich Orchestra of Cologne

Rachmaninov: Symphony No. 2; Vocalise

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For this 2015 release on Oehms Classics, Dmitri Kitayenko and the Gürzenich-Orchestra of Cologne present two of Sergey Rachmaninov's most popular works: the Symphony No. 2 in E minor and the Vocalise in C sharp minor. If this album seems like any number of CDs with this pairing, be prepared for a surprise, because the Vocalise is performed by Valer Sabadus, a German countertenor whose florid voice may be more familiar from performances of Baroque opera. This rendition of the Vocalise hearkens back to Rachmaninov's original version for soprano voice, as the last of the 14 Lieder, Op. 34, which was subsequently arranged for various solo instruments and orchestra. Sabadus' performance is startling and decidedly unusual, and it may be too much for traditionalists to accept, but if they are only interested in a conventional interpretation, other arrangements of the Vocalise are readily available on other albums. Assuming that most listeners will care more about the symphony, which Kitayenko and his orchestra play to perfection, this disc deserves high marks for its faithfulness to Rachmaninov's expression, the richness of the orchestration, and its clear sound quality, notwithstanding the filler track.

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