RACHMANINOV Symphony No 3. Symphonic Dances
The variably transliterated Dmitri Kitaenko, who recorded The Bells for Chandos in the 1990s (2/92), has recently completed a more comprehensive Rachmaninov symphony series featuring the Gürzenich Orchestra of Cologne, with whom he enjoys an ongoing association as Conductor Laureate. Technically speaking, the sequence matches the very best, now including the recent double album from Paavo Järvi’s Orchestre de Paris which takes in the two works under review (Erato, A/15). Kitaenko secures comparably excellent playing and the sound is at once spacious and well focused. Interpretatively speaking the picture is more mixed. This is broad, reflective, perhaps deliberately old-fashioned Rachmaninov, not unlike Evgeni Svetlanov’s later efforts though without much in the way of dramatic impulse. Textures are detailed as well as sumptuous, but it’s as though second subjects exist to be indulged.
In the Third Symphony the lingering approach works best in the central movement. Launched by one of the slowest chant-like preambles on disc, the first lacks its exposition repeat while the finale also tends to hang fire, rousing itself effectively enough for a final dash before slamming on rhetorical brakes. The three Symphonic Dances are more various, the first played relatively straight, the second not so much suave as shuddery, riven by perilously extreme rubato. Are those real church bells near the start of the finale? The argument grinds to a halt once too often for my taste, yet there’s no doubting the conviction of a reading that avoids sentimentality in the obvious danger
spots, doesn’t slow down unduly for the unexpected reprise of ‘Blagosloven esi, Gospodi’ and allows the concluding gong stroke to ring out impressively.
Well worth a punt even if the booklet-notes are built around a false premise, unaware that Rachmaninov became a US citizen near the end of his life.