These two major works from Rachmaninov’s last decade form a substantial and varied program, given here in excellent performances and recorded in very vivid Super Audio format. Thirty-something Russian virtuoso Yevgeny Sudbin gives a dashing account of the Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, investing the work with all the requisite drama, colour and wit.
Lan Shui and his Singapore musicians are totally committed to the cause and support Sudbin with excellent ensemble.
Rachmaninov’s orchestration is brilliantly highlighted by the engineering to the point that everything is very present, and this listener at least lost some sense of sonic perspective on standard audio equipment.Doubtless playback in surround sound would yield added dimensions. Don’t let this caveat, however, deter you from enjoying Sudbin’s considerable artistry.
Mention “Rach Three” to music lovers and they will immediately think of the Third Piano Concerto rather than the Third Symphony. Rachmaninov’s symphonies have always lived in the shadow of his piano concertos.
Completed a few years after the Paganini variations, the composer’s last symphony did not receive a rapturous welcome and at least one commentator has referred to it as “a sad failure”. Despite all of this, the work does have a voluptuous art deco charm, even if it lacks a big tune like that at the centre of the Paganini variations.
Lan Shui elicits some gorgeous playing from his band; the strings shimmer when required (which is often), the winds are well tuned and the sparkling brass crown the orchestral tuttis. On this evidence, the Singapore Symphony is a highly polished outfit and I look forward to hearing more from them.