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Symphonic Dances, The Isle of the Dead and The Rock

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra/Vasily Petrenko

Avie - AV2188

Not the most popular Rachmaninov, but three strong orchestral scores from the phases of his composing life.

Tchaikovsky admired The Rock (op 7) composed at twenty, well before the first symphony which proved to be a setback for him. It's fine stuff, finely orchestrated, and praise to Petrenko for bringing it to our attention.

Böcklin's The Isle of the Dead inspired Rachmaninov's sombre and compelling op 29 of 1906, and the deservedly admired Symphonic Dances (1941, op 45) was the culmination of his compositions without piano.

They are all splendidly played and recorded magnificently at Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool. My only caveat is the ordering on the disc; do play them in the reverse, chronological order.

Peter Grahame Woolf