Rachmaninoff: Symphony No. 2; Prélude in C-Sharp Minor
John Wilson and his super-orchestra give an incredible account here of the best known of Rachmaninoff’s three symphonies, the Second. It’s rather like looking at a well-known painting newly cleaned. Wilson gives us a fresh-minted performance with string playing in particular of extraordinary weight, power and flexibility. The great motto theme emerges atmospherically from the mists at the opening—Wilson allows it to build with remarkable control, saving a little bit of orchestral heft for the climaxes, and overall his players respond magnificently to his utterly convincing view of the score. Stokowksi’s gorgeous orchestration of Rachmaninoff’s Prélude in C-Sharp Minor makes for a heady opener.