Previn's Recording Of Rachmaninov's Symphony No. 2 Is Called Definitive

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Previn's Recording Of Rachmaninov's Symphony No. 2 Is Called Definitive

Sergei Rachmaninov, Russian composer and pianist, is one of the world's best loved classical musicians. His works are full of sad and beautiful melodies that stir the emotions, and are thus particularly loved by many young single women - who tend to relish everything sentimental.


Andre Previn and the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Rachmaninov's Symphony No. 2

Rachmaninov, however, may not be everyone's cup of tea. There are some pianists, such as Alfred Brendel and Daniel Barenboim, who consider Rachmaninov's works so shallow and vulgar they refuse to play any.

Still, for many, Rachmaninov is an all-time favorite. The second movement of his Piano Concerto No. 2 is very well known and was even arranged as a pop song, "All by Myself," sung by Eric Carmen.

Rachmaninov's three symphonies are often overshadowed by his piano pieces. However, the Symphony No. 2 ranked 13th in a British survey of listeners' favorite classical music pieces last year. This symphony also won the Glinka Award and a prize of 1,000 rubles in 1908 when it was premiered in St. Petersburg, conducted by Rachmaninov.

Rachmaninov's Symphony No. 2 is sometimes confused as one of Tchaikovsky's works, but Rachmaninov's is superior in flow and composition to Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 2 which, though skillful, is merely a blending of fragmentary melodies. Listening to the Symphony No. 2 is like riding through the waves of sound created by the string instruments. Borne by the waves, you'll reach the finale in the fourth movement before you know it. In 1979, the third movement was arranged into "If I Had You," by British pop duo The Korgis, and was enjoyed by pop music lovers as well. The charm of the symphony, however, does not just lie in the slow flow of lyrical adagios in the third movement. The marvelous, masculine second movement, and the fourth movement, flooded with beautiful melodies, are also evidence to many that Rachmaninov was a born melodist.

The symphony takes about an hour to play. Though many players often omit repetitive parts in the first and the fourth movements, the famed conductor Andre Previn recorded the symphony in its entirety with the London Symphony Orchestra in 1973, bringing another great recording to the world. Previn's interpretation of Rachmaninov's symphony captures all the details yet does not miss the big picture.

The orchestra clicks wonderfully with the maestro and together, they lead the audience into the moving world of Rachmaninov.

by Lee Jang-jik

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