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Rachmaninoff: The Isle of the Dead & Symphony No. 1

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Customer Reviews

Keep the Rach coming!

Leonard Slatkin brings equal parts gravitas and passion to his latest recording of Rachmaninoff with the very talented musicians of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. I can't wait for the next Rachmaninoff release from the DSO and Naxos - they help me melt the day's troubles away.

One at a time

There are some things about this CD that I really like. “Ostrov Myortvikh” or “The Isle of the Dead” is very well done. Though the piece is heavily based on the “Dies Irae” motive, it succeeds in not pounding you over the head with it. The sections in 5 were very appealing, but I was hoping Rachmaninov would have clashed the subdivisions every once in a while- if you put something divided into 2+3 over something 3+2 you could get some really cool sounds. Every once in a while there were some raw moments in the orchestra, but whether that’s the players or the orchestration I’m not sure. There’s a moment with the flute and clarinet play an extended passage in unison, and I don’t know if the weirdness is the players or Rachmaninov.

The final piece on the album, Rachmaninov’s First Symphony, is an unfortunate companion to “The Isle of the Dead”. The latter was popular in Rachmaninov’s time, while the former had a disastrous premiere and Rachmaninov didn’t attempt to have it performed again in his lifetime. With that aside, though, the motivic similarities between the two works were distracting. I heard the Dies Irae EVERYWHERE in the symphony, and it made the album as a whole sound a little too homogenous for me. If you took it on its own, it might be more enjoyable. I will keep listening to this album, but probably just one piece at a time.


Born: September 1, 1944 in Los Angeles, CA

Genre: Classical

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Leonard Slatkin is one of the world's leading conductors, noted for his performances of American, Russian, and British music, and Haydn symphonies. He was born to a famous musical family. His father was Felix Slatkin (1915-1963), a Saint Louis-born violinist who rose to become a film score and light music conductor, and founder of the Hollywood String Quartet. Leonard's mother was the excellent cello soloist Eleanor Aller, cellist of the quartet. Between them, they trained their boy in violin, viola,...
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Rachmaninoff: The Isle of the Dead & Symphony No. 1, Leonard Slatkin
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