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Cat. No. CHAN 10104 Price: £10.5 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 10104 - Rachmaninoff: The Rock/ Prince Rostislav/Scherzo/Caprice bohémien/Isle of the Dead
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Available From: 18 August 2003
"Prince Rostislav is the most extended and in many ways the finest of Rachmaninov’s student works. While it displays the influences of both Tchaikovsky and Rimsky-Korsakov, it also shows the young composer’s undoubted gift as a melodist. Both it and the Scherzo in D minor (among the very earliest of Rachmaninov’s compositions and his earliest surviving piece for orchestra) had to wait almost sixty years for their first performances. The two works were premiered together in November 1945.

The score of The Rock is headed with a quotation from Lermontov’s poem of the same name: ‘The little golden cloud slept/On the breast of the giant rock’. These two lines had earlier served as an epigraph to Chekhov’s short story On the Road – the real source of inspiration for Rachmaninov’s symphonic fantasia. Completed in the summer of 1893, Tchaikovsky was apparently sufficiently impressed by it to want to conduct the work the following season. Unfortunately, his untimely death prevented this and it was Vassily Safonov who took up the baton for the premiere in 1894.

Caprice bohémien occupied Rachmaninov for two years, from the summer of 1892 to the summer of 1894. With its three integrated sections, it contains all the intense rhythmic vitality and harmonic originality that Rachmaninov developed so successfully in his later works. Among these is The Isle of the Dead, completed in April 1907 whilst he was living in Dresden. This masterpiece of tone painting was inspired by Arnold Böcklin’s picture ‘Die Toteninsel’. The music captures the deathly stillness of Böcklin’s craggy isle, bathed in a light that is at once luminous and muted.


A highly accomplished reading of Rachmaninovs glorious Symphonic Dances …
Gramophone on CHAN 9759 (Symphonic Dances)

Themes are supply shaped, with yielding accompaniments and autumnal colourations. Climaxes are lovingly moulded and the whole texture shimmers and glows.
International Record Review on CHAN 9802 (Symphony No. 3)

…presented here by Polyansky and his orchestra in gloriously full Slavic colour…
The Independent

'Here is a tempting proposition for collectors who wish to explore Rachmaninov's shorter orchestral works, having acquired his symphonies without makeweights.'


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