Rachmaninov: Symphonic Dances; The Isle of the Dead

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Rachmaninov
LABELS: Naxos
WORKS: Symphonic Dances; The Isle of the Dead
PERFORMER: Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Enrique Batiz
CATALOGUE NO: 8.550583 DDD
This whole disc is shot through with an earthy vibrancy which is never at the expense of taste or accuracy. The engineering plays its part, and London’s Henry Wood Hall is appropriately rich and the dynamic range awesome. Yet it is all of a piece with the interpretations, which seem determined to relate both works to the more radical musical avenues that the composer is usually credited with ignoring.

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Batiz is better at being demonic than melancholy (here he is helped by some splendidly brassy rasping from the horns), yet he can relax when necessary and is aided by often sensitive woodwind playing.

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Not the only way of tackling these works, but at this price there is little excuse not to investigate. A genuine bargain. Simon Cargill