Starring: Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, Bernhard Gueller
A magnificent work that helped re-establish the composer's self-confidence as a symphonist.
The immediacy of the romance in Rachmaninov's music is probably the greatest reason for its widespread and continued appeal.
The Second Symphony was written not in Russia but in Dresden, where Rachmaninov and his young family lived for the best part of four years from 1906. Rachmaninov considered himself first and foremost a composer and felt that his conducting schedule in Russia was detracting from his time to compose. Summers spent at his in-law's estate presented Rachmaninov with the opportunity to write both his Second Symphony and the tone poem, Isle of the Dead.
The Symphony is evidently not a simple or easy listen, not least because, at an hour in length, it requires considerable concentration - but it well repays the effort put in.
Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra
Conductor Bernhard Gueller