Rachmaninov: Symphony No 3 in A minor, Op 44; Symphonic Dances, Op 45; Caprice bohémien, Op 12; The Rock, Op 7; Vocalise, Op 34 No 14

Reviewed on Thu 03 Dec, 2015

By the side of, say, Ashkenazy (Decca), Järvi takes a more patient view of the gorgeous Third Symphony, but there's ample compensation in the way he allows Rachmaninov's long-breathed melodies to bloom, and there are numerous subtle touches of phrasing, texture and harmony to keep you on your toes.

A strongly recommendable package, this, which reveals Paavo Järvi as a Rachmaninov interpreter of abundant flair, temperament and sensitivity. By the side of, say, Ashkenazy (Decca), he takes a more patient view of the gorgeous Third Symphony, but there's ample compensation in the way he allows Rachmaninov's long-breathed melodies to bloom, and there are numerous subtle touches of phrasing, texture and harmony to keep you on your toes. Likewise, his cogent reading of the Symphonic Dances (Rachmaninov's masterly 1945 swansong) effortlessly holds the listener in its thrall: not only does the Orchestre de Paris respond with playing of dashing instinct, striking personality and keen rhythmic snap, Järvi directs with enormous heart, pleasing elasticity and intrepid individuality. As for the couplings, both the gloweringly atmospheric tone-poem The Rock and darkly passionate Caprice bohémien (close cousin to the ambitious First Symphony) come off especially well, the latter's whirlwind culmination having real gypsy fire in its belly. Despite the live provenance (Paris's Salle Pleyel), the Erato engineers have secured an eminently truthful and detailed sound-picture, with nary a murmur from the auditorium. The two CDs, by the way, retail for the price of one.
–Andrew Achenbach