Osmo Vänskä

Rachmaninov: Symphony No. 3; Bax: Tintagel

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Recorded live on December 8, 2007, with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Osmo Vänskä's readings of Bax's Tintagel and Rachmaninov's Third Symphony are pretty but workaday. The LPO plays with alert enthusiasm, and Vänskä brings enough tempo rubato and color to the affair to communicate a knowledge and understanding of the scores, but the individual voices of the two very different composers, and indeed of Vänskä himself, get lost. Tintagel's brazen romanticism is replaced here by off-the-shelf fin de siècle sentimentalism, and the Third's curious fusion of decadent opulence and acerbic irony here is merely sumptuous. The performances are by no means objectionable, but they are also in no way special, and that will likely be immediately apparent to fans of either composer. Listeners heretofore unfamiliar with these works are advised to try John Barbirolli's Tintagel with the London Symphony and Leopold Stokowski's Third Symphony with the National Philharmonic. The live digital sound is clear and colorful, but distant and a bit dim.

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