Record Reviews – 1/7/2007
Philadephia Sunday Inquirer
Ratings: **** Excellent *** Good ** Fair * Poor
Rachmaninoff: Symphony No. 2
Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Paavo Jarvi conducting
The buzz around the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra under Paavo Jarvi is getting louder and stronger. Though you'd never want to draw conclusions about day-to-day music-making from a recording, this disc is one of the best available outings with this great symphony - and that's something all the recording-studio wizardry in the world can't conjure.
This performance's starting point is an attractive string sonority, of course, though few conductors give the piece such personal, meaningful phrase readings. With some fast tempos and wide dynamic ranges, the 1908 symphony becomes an explosive, anxious, even world-weary anticipation of the tumultuous century to come.
The disc also features some early, little-known orchestral works, most notably two dances from the 1893 opera Aleko that clearly look forward to the composer's final work, The Symphonic Dances. Few composers established their personalities so early but went on to encompass so many other musical worlds.
- David Patrick Stearns