Rachmaninov - Symphony no.3, Vocalise, The Isle of the Dead | Chandos CHSA5297

Rachmaninov - Symphony no.3, Vocalise, The Isle of the Dead

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Label: Chandos

Cat No: CHSA5297

Format: Hybrid SACD

Number of Discs: 1

Genre: Orchestral

Release Date: 28th October 2022



Sinfonia of London


John Wilson


Rachmaninov, Sergei

Songs (14), op.34
» no.14 Vocalise (arr. for orchestra)
Symphony no.3 in A minor, op.44
The Isle of the Dead, op.29


Sinfonia of London


John Wilson


Rachmaninov’s tone poem The Isle of the Dead was composed in Dresden in 1908–09, inspired by the 1880 painting of that name by the Swiss symbolist Arnold Böcklin. The painting depicts a ferryman rowing a coffin towards the Isle of the Dead, and Rachmaninov, unusually setting the piece in five beats to the bar, captures the atmosphere and the motion of oars in the water in the most extraordinary detail.

Dedicated to the outstanding Ukrainian-born coloratura soprano Antonina Vasilyevna Nezhdanova, the ‘Vocalise’ was first performed, by her with the composer, in January 1916. After creating a version with orchestral accompaniment, Rachmaninov then produced the version heard here, for orchestra alone.

Following the Russian revolution and his exile to the USA, the compositional output of Rachmaninov declined dramatically. In great demand both as a virtuoso performer and as a conductor, he toured extensively, but struggled to incorporate ‘modern music’ into his compositional style. In the mid-1930s he acquired a holiday villa in Lucerne, and surprised the world with his ‘Paganini’ Rhapsody, quickly followed by the Third Symphony.

Sinfonia of London and John Wilson demonstrate exceptional ensemble playing throughout, and their glowing string sound suits this repertoire perfectly. Recorded in Surround Sound, and available as a Hybrid SACD.

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