Rachmanioff: Symphonic Dances


Album review
Rachmanioff: Symphonic Dances


Symphonic Dances. Vocalise

Label: Turnabout/Analogue Productions
Media: LP
Genre: Classical

This recording has been an audiophile favorite for decades. Engineer David R. Hancock captured a rather dry but clarifying acoustic in McFarlin Auditorium at Southern Methodist University in May of 1967, and the sonics stop just short of being overly analytical. There’s good timbral accuracy and detail: muted brasses have snarling bite, and percussion—bells, tambourine, triangle—sparkles. The Dallas Symphony Orchestra of 43 years ago isn’t always up to this kind of recorded scrutiny. Despite a legacy that included stints as music director by Paul Kletzki, Antal Dorati, and Georg Solti, this was a second-tier ensemble that lacked the tonal pulchritude required to optimally bring off Rachmaninoff’s late masterpiece. The principal oboe is frequently unpleasant to listen to and the extended passage for winds alone in the opening movement gets tedious. Johanos’s reading misses the sweep, emotional depth, and virtuosic flair of the best. Likewise, his Vocalise is short on pathos. If these performances do float your boat, Analogue Productions’ 45rpm remastering improves upon the venerable Athena LP release from the late 80s, with better dynamics and a fuller “middle” to the orchestral sonority. 

More Info

  • composer, Rachmaninoff
  • conductor, Donald Johanos
  • LP

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