Vasily Petrenko / Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra

Rachmaninov: Symphony No. 3; Caprice Bohémien; Vocalise

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Marking the beginning of EMI Classics' relationship with conductor Vasily Petrenko and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, this 2012 release features two of Sergey Rachmaninov's less familiar works for orchestra, the early Caprice bohémien (1892) and the late Symphony No. 3 in A minor (1935-1936), along with the ever popular Vocalise in its lush orchestral version. The Caprice is placed first, undoubtedly to keep it from being overlooked as a trifle, but this mildly exotic yet mostly gloomy Gypsy fantasy is really of secondary importance to the symphony, which demands serious appreciation. Petrenko and the RLPO dig deeply into this work and give it an intense reading that would befit a Russian orchestra in its passionate expression and colorful execution. The Third Symphony is mature Rachmaninov, and its probing and pointed style is very close to the Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini and the Symphonic Dances, the two works it was composed between. This lean and muscular piece deserves much greater exposure, and Petrenko's sympathetic interpretation is an excellent one to advance its cause. But if it takes the easy appeal of the Vocalise and the novelty of the Caprice to bring new listeners to hear the Third, so be it. EMI's reproduction is rich, warm, and closely detailed, and the orchestra has astonishingly realistic presence in the vibrant acoustic space.

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