Haunting soloist star of Rachmaninov record

The principal clarinettist shines on a recording of Rachmaninov's Vocalise and Symphony No.2 that's not quite up there with the best

Composer: Rachmaninov
Repertoire: Vocalise; Symphony No.2
Artists: Detroit SO/Leonard Slatkin
Rating: 3.5/5
Genre: Orchestral
Label: Naxos 8.572458

A huge standard is set by the many superb recordings of Rachmaninov’s ultra-lyrical Second Symphony. This live performance holds its own well, although it’s preceded by Slatkin’s and the orchestra’s strangely charmless way with the Vocalise (which anyway sounds better with the wordless solo voice of its original version). For all the symphony’s headlong impetus in its quick movements it’s vital not to rush these, and Slatkin’s willingness to give his players plenty of time brings a classy and richly colourful response. In the slow movement’s beautiful main tune, too, the principal clarinettist is as haunting a soloist as you’ll hear.