For many years Rachmaninov’s symphonic output was neglected, and ot wasn’t until the 1970s that the Second of his three symphonies was heard in its original uncut version. Slowly the realisation that this work and the masterful Third Symphony and Symphonic Dances were indeed able to stand comparison with the best of the symphonic repertoire finally dawned. They are now standard repertoire for most of the major orchestras, and as popular as the piano concertos with the public.
The Philadelphia Orchestra was Rachmaninov’s favourite, and the sound that it became famous for under Leopold Stokowski suits his music well. These recordings were praised for their sound upon release in the 1990s, and Charles Dutoit captures the ‘Philadelphia Sound’ admirably. Rachmaninov’s own recording of the Third symphony was made with this orchestra, who premiered it under Stokowski in 1936.
‘Compared with other versions, Dutoit’s performance of The Bells is remarkable for subtle pianissimos and half tones rather than dramatic bite…but helped by the dynamic range of the atmospheric recording, it is still an impressive performance.’ Gramophone, August 1994.
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