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Wydawnictwo: ABC Classics
Nr katalogowy: ABC 4764842
Nośnik: 1 CD
Data wydania: lipiec 2012
EAN: 28947648420
52,00 zł
44,2% taniej
29,00 zł
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Epoka muzyczna: 20 wiek do 1960
Obszar (język): rosyjski
Rodzaj: symfonia

Rachmaninow: Symphony No. 2 in E minor, Op. 27

ABC Classics - ABC 4764842
Melbourne Symphony Orchestra / Tadaaki Otaka
Largo - Allegro moderato
Allegro molto
Allegro vivace
It seems perplexing now that this fervent, warm-hearted symphony should have been neglected for so long. Arguably, it has never been out of fashion with the public that loves Rachmaninoff’s music, but between the two world wars, perhaps until the 1970s, its emotional grandeur was mistrusted by many critics. It was also, for many years, the usual practice to perform it with disfiguring cuts, which the composer had reluctantly approved in the hope of securing further performances.

The symphony is now established as one of the most popular of all Russian orchestral works. Max Harrison’s words about musical fashion seem particularly apt: ‘Composers great and less great win their place in music history through having ideas of their own, and as time passes it counts for little whether these were cast in an advanced or traditional language.’

The circumstances of the symphony’s composition are unremarkable: between 1906 and 1909 Rachmaninoff and his family spent much of each year in Dresden. These Dresden years were his most consistently fruitful as a composer: his First Piano Sonata, the tone poem The Isle of the Dead and his Third Piano Concerto all date from this period.

A secretive composer at the best of times, he was particularly reluctant to discuss his work on this symphony with colleagues. The premiere of his Symphony No. 1 in 1897 was a fiasco so shattering to Rachmaninoff that he was unable to compose at all for three years. He was now cautious about its successor, and before he had finished orchestrating it, he told friends that it was a repulsive work, that he was already sick of it, and that he did not know how to write symphonies anyway. But its first performances, which Rachmaninoff conducted himself, were great successes, and the work was awarded a major Russian composition prize in 1908.

The Second is Rachmaninoff’s only symphony to date from the years of his full-blown Romantic style. At a little more than 60 minutes, it is as expansive as the symphonies of his contemporaries Mahler and Elgar, but it is not of their kin – it is more direct in its expressive ambitions, throwing itself without reservation into each successive emotion. Although it has the emotional extravagance of the big Richard Strauss tone poems, this symphony declares no interest in their contrapuntal virtuosity. Rachmaninoff’s counterpoint is concerned primarily with establishing a fitting context for a wealth of melodic writing. In the boldness of its profile and intensity of feeling, this symphony is the work of a profoundly original mind.

In one important characteristic, the Second is typical of its time – it is, like the symphonies of Bruckner, Mahler and Elgar, post-Wagnerian in its time-scale and ambitions, particularly in its frequent changes of key within movements, the long span of its melodies, the way Rachmaninoff creates harmonic tension by refusing to return to established keys at expected moments, and the use of motto themes to bind the individual movements together. Yet, structurally, the symphony is quite conventional: a first movement in sonata form (complete with a slow introduction); a scherzo and trio; and, following the Adagio, a vigorous finale of well-bred Classical proportions.

Its orchestration, too, is Classically inclined. ‘The weight of the argument is given to the strings’ is a phrase used repeatedly by annotators to describe Rachmaninoff’s scoring of the Second Symphony, but this remark disguises the sensitivity with which the string voicings are placed. There is much expressive, high writing for the violas, particularly in the first movement; the wealth of warm divisi writing for the violins is one of the symphony’s hallmarks; and the colours of the low strings vary with remarkable subtlety.

It is the cellos and basses we hear first, in the quiet opening bars of the Largo introduction. This is our initial encounter with the symphony’s three motto themes, and when the Allegro proper begins, we see that the movement’s main theme – a yearning, winding idea given to the violins – has been derived from the third of these. There is also a short, suave second subject for oboes and clarinets, which is answered and extended by the strings. The development begins with brief solos for violin and clarinet – reminiscences of the movement’s main theme – that emerge between fragmentary orchestral quotations and transformations of the other themes we have already heard. The atmosphere becomes seriously tempestuous before we reach the recapitulation, which is based largely on the suave second subject. The movement ends with a force and power very different from the dark brooding with which it began.

The physical energy of the scherzo is a bright light after the shifting orchestral perspectives of the opening movement. In the middle of its festivities, a clarinet solo leads us to one of Rachmaninoff’s glowing Romantic melodies, written in characteristic step-wise fashion, and stretching itself luxuriantly across 23 bars of music before we return to the scherzo music proper.

Rachmaninoff then pauses before announcing the beginning of the trio with a startling tutti exclamation. A vivid fugue, in which the movement’s main theme is passed fleetingly around the whole orchestra, leads to a restatement of all the major scherzo material until, in the coda, the jaunty

atmosphere is interrupted by solemn brass chantings of the symphony’s second motto theme, after which the movement seems to slither off into its own dark corner.

The glorious Adagio is the most overtly Wagnerian movement in the work, sounding at times like a Russian meditation on the world of Tristan und Isolde. This is Rachmaninoff the composer and conductor of operas, and here is perhaps the greatest love duet never written for the stage. The Allegro vivace finale immediately establishes an atmosphere of frenetic jollity; indeed, the fizzing triplets given to bassoons, flutes, clarinets and strings seem to mimic the sound of laughter. Was Rachmaninoff ever again this unbuttoned?

When this symphony was new, music critic Philip Hale declared that its early popularity revealed ‘a weakness in its composition’, and that one day the work would be ‘buried snugly in the great cemetery of orchestral compositions’. The increasing popularity of Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2 since the 1970s is a victory for the broad commonwealth of music-lovers over the small, influential critical fraternity who once declared it obvious and naive. It might even be a signal that a concern for human feeling is the primary value most audiences seek in music old and new.

Phillip Sametz Tadaaki Otaka

Tadaaki Otaka took up his appointment as Principal Guest Conductor of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra in 2010. In the same year, he became Artistic Director at the New National Theatre Tokyo. One of Japan’s leading conductors, Tadaaki Otaka’s wide-ranging activities include concert, opera, radio and television and also premieres of works by such distinguished composers as Teizo Matsumura, Toru Takemitsu and Akira Miyoshi. He is Permanent Conductor of Tokyo’s NHK Symphony Orchestra and the Sapporo Symphony Orchestra, and Conductor Laureate at the BBC National Orchestra of Wales (BBC NOW) and the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra. He is also Music Adviser and Principal Conductor of the Kioi Sinfonietta Tokyo, which he founded in 1995 and swiftly established as among Japan’s best chamber ensembles; he was made its Honorary Conductor Laureate in 2003. Forthcoming engagements include Salome with the Tokyo Philharmonic at the New National Theatre Tokyo, and symphonic projects with the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra and West Australian Symphony Orchestra, as well as his regular commitments with many Japanese orchestras. Highlights of recent seasons include Britten’s War Requiem with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, special concerts in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, and a critically-acclaimed European tour with the Sapporo Symphony Orchestra. His regular commitments across Japan include performances with the Nagoya and Japan Philharmonic Orchestras and the Osaka Symphony.

Tadaaki Otaka is a recipient of the Suntory Music Award, given each year to the most impressive individual Japanese musician or ensemble. In 1993 the Welsh College of Music and Drama conferred an Honorary Fellowship on him; he also holds an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Wales. In 1997, he was awarded the CBE, in recognition of his outstanding contribution over many years to British musical life, and in 2000 he was awarded the Elgar Medal by the Elgar Society, marking a compelling record of conducting the composer’s works overseas.

Melbourne Symphony Orchestra

With a reputation for excellence, versatility and innovation, the internationally acclaimed Melbourne Symphony Orchestra is Australia’s oldest orchestra, established in 1906. Renowned for its performances of the great symphonic masterworks with leading international and Australian artists including Bryn Terfel, Maxim Vengerov, John Williams, Osmo Vanska, Paavo Jarvi, Charles Dutoit, Yan Pascal Tortelier, Donald Runnicles, Andrew Davis, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Yvonne Kenny, Edo de Waart, Lang Lang, Nigel Kennedy, Jeffrey Tate, Midori, Christine Brewer, Richard Tognetti, Emma Matthews and Teddy Tahu Rhodes, it has also enjoyed hugely successful performances with such artists as Elton John, John Farnham, Harry Connick, Jr., kd lang, Ben Folds, KISS, Burt Bacharach, The Whitlams, Human Nature, Roberta Flack, Sting and Tim Minchin. Key musical figures in the Orchestra’s history include Hiroyuki Iwaki (Chief Conductor and then Conductor Laureate, 1974-2006) and Markus Stenz (Chief Conductor and Artistic Director, 1998-2004). Oleg Caetani was the MSO’s Chief Conductor and Artistic Director from 2005 to 2009.

The MSO has received widespread international recognition in tours to the USA, Canada, Japan, Korea, China and Europe. In addition, the Orchestra tours throughout regional Victoria, and presents an annual concert season in Geelong. Each year the Orchestra performs to more than 200,000 people, at events ranging from the annual Sidney Myer Free Concerts in the Sidney Myer Music Bowl to the series of Classic Kids concerts for young children. The MSO reaches an even larger audience across Australia through its regular concert broadcasts on ABC Classic FM, and maintains an extensive program of education and community outreach activities. The Orchestra’s Artist Development work includes the Cybec 21st Century Australian Composers Program, which each year commissions and performs music by young Australian composers.

Recent CDs include three volumes of symphonies of Alexandre Tansman (all Diapason d’Or laureates) on the Chandos label, and for ABC Classics, Heart of Night (concertos by Ross Edwards), Pages from a Secret Journal (orchestral works by Richard Mills), Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9 ‘From the New World’, Brahms’s A German Requiem and Mahler’s Symphony No. 10, part of the orchestra’s MSO Live series, which also includes the final concert given in Australia by Charles Mackerras. A Chandos disc featuring Goossens’ Symphony No. 1 was the last recording conducted by Richard Hickox.

The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra is funded principally by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body, and is generously supported by the Victorian Government through Arts Victoria, Department of Premier and Cabinet. The MSO is also funded by the City of Melbourne, its Principal Partner, Emirates, and individual and corporate sponsors and donors.


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