Rachmaninov: The Bells (Live in Moscow)

Festive Overture, op.96
Chant du ménestrel, op.71
The Bells, op.35
Entr’acte (Act IV) from Khovanshchina, orch. Stokowski
Vocalise, orch. Serebrier
Conductor: José Serebrier
Soloists: Lyubov Petrova, Andrei Popov, Sergei Leiferkus.
Chorus: Moscow State Chamber Choir
Warner Classics 2564-68025-5
Purchase via RNO iTunes

Awards

Editor's Choice, Classic FM


Reviews

New Jersey Star Ledger

...a warmhearted, vigorous collection of Russian music. Serebrier leads a fluid, inspired account of the title work... The performers vividly depict its range of sprightly energy, raucous celebration, decadent swooning, violent uproar and delicate reflection.... Serebrier's orchestral arrangement [of Vocalise] is very moving. Amazing performances for a live recording.

American Record Guide

Even if I wanted to, I couldn't find a single complaint to make about this spectacular recording... It's one of those rare records where everything just falls into place. Serebrier's interpretation of The Bells is powerful, capturing this sometimes troublesome work's vast range of emotion with tremendous assuredness and depth. The orchestra plays and the singers sing as if their lives depend on it... The other works on the program are... performed with the same concentration, expressiveness, and sincerity. Shostakovich's Festive Overture always gives a concert a kick-start; Serebrier and the players give it plenty of verve, without a hint of routine.

Classical.net

In the opening movement Serebrier draws a spirited, quite detailed performance from the orchestra and chorus in the outer sections and does not shortchange the darker moments in the middle section... In the second movement Serebrier catches the heart of this lovely music... This is a fine performance of The Bells, perhaps on the same level as the early-stereo Kondrashin on Melodiya, a benchmark of sorts in this work.... The fillers are all performed well.... The sound on the disc is vivid and quite full, despite its live origins. All in all, this disc [is] a worthwhile offering. Recommended.

NJ.com

Jose Serebrier and the RNO’s live recording is a warmhearted, vigorous collection of Russian music. Serebrier leads a fluid account of the title work... The performers vividly depict its range of sprightly energy, raucous celebration, decadent swooning, violent uproar and delicate reflection. Fantastic performance by a master conductor and a great orchestra and choir. The Moscow State Chamber Choir, sounding massive, sings with abandon.

MusicWeb International

Achieves a pellucid, near-audiophile quality. In the lighter textures, each strand is crisply defined, yet there's plenty of air around the sound, a sense of space that's retained as the sonorities fill out. [To] get such an overall fine result in a concert recording is particularly remarkable…. José Serebrier is expert at eliciting expression through sonority and color, and the engineers' clear, uncluttered definition of the textures is an asset….

American Record Guide

Even if I wanted to, I couldn't find a single complaint to make about this spectacular recording… It's one of those rare records where everything just falls into place. Serebrier's interpretation of The Bells is powerful, capturing this sometimes troublesome work's vast range of emotion with tremendous assuredness and depth. The orchestra plays and the singers sing as if their lives depend on it... The other works on the program are...performed with the same concentration, expressiveness, and sincerity.

MusicWeb

What's so consistently impressive about his account of the Rachmaninoff is its marrying of architectural surety and consistently fine vocal and instrumental contributions… The pacing of The Bells is notably successful…. The rest of the concert is equally desirable. It began with a sparkling performance of Shostakovich's Festive Overture, a compound here of brio, brilliance and surefooted musical good sense, and avoiding pot-boiling pitfalls. Glazunov's Chant du ménestrel, with cellist Wen-Sinn Yang, receives a warm and thoughtful reading, with fine wind statements into the bargain. We also have Stokowski's bold and powerful orchestration of the Entr'acte from Act IV of Mussorgsky's Khovanschina, the glistening power of which elicits a chorus of 'bravos' from the audience. And to close we have the conductor's own impressive orchestration of Rachmaninoff's Vocalise, written for, and unveiled at, the commemorative event…. The whole concert is a success from beginning to end - interpretatively, sonically and programmatically.

Classic FM

This must be one of the finest performances of The Bells ever recorded. [This] enthralls from start to finish. José Serebrier secures choral and orchestral contributions of mesmerizing vividness and thrilling power to match: meanwhile the soloists (Lyubov Petrova, Andrei Popov and Sergei Leiferkus) all impress... Highly recommended.

Gramophone magazine

It is a terrific performance, in which José Serebrier and the Russian National Orchestra identify those telling touches of instrumentation and detail that help make the score at once so poignant, so thrilling and so moving...The Moscow State Chamber Choir is similarly alert to Rachmaninov's expressive requirements.

International Record Review

The first thing that struck me was the excellence of the sound... Shostakovich's 'Festival Overture'... received a stunning account, exceptional for being so thoroughly musical... the instrumental phrasing is a constant joy... Glazunov's Chant du Menestrel... is a delightful work of no pretence which receives at the hands of the very gifted young cellist Wen-Sinn Yang an ideal performance, winningly lyrical and perfectly balanced with the orchestra... Serebrier directs a deeply impressive account of [Rachmaninov's 'The Bells'], sung - as only they can - by a Russian choir and three distinguished Russian soloists. Serebrier's choice of tempos is absolutely ideal and the music - which can be difficult to bring off successfully with regard to structure - unfolds naturally and successfully. This is a very fine performance indeed, and the result should be heard by all admirers of this composer... strongly recommended.

Gramophone magazine

I've just witnessed Serebrier, in the magnificent Great Hall of the Tchaikovsky Conservatoire, holding the Russian National Orchestra, soloists and choir in the palm of his hand and coaxing out of them an incandescent performance of Rachmaninov's The Bells.

Audiophile Audition

This fine disc captures Jose Serebrier at the helm of a variety of Russian works, several of which testify to his cultural lineage to Leopold Stokowski. Serebrier, himself a master colorist, opens with the 1954 Festive Overture of Shostakovich... Glazunov's Minstrel's Serenade makes a direct appeal to the memory of Mstislav Rostropovich, an ardent performer of this brief but tender work. The sweet sounds of Yang's cello play off against the orchestra's oboe for some elegiac sentiments... The last pages [of Rachmaninov's Bells] clearly achieve an illumination, an organ-tinted apotheosis to which the Russian audience responds fervently... Serebrier himself retouched the famous Vocalise of Rachmaninov as a string serenade...to achieve an extended flowing moment of elegiac bliss. A solo cello adds to the intimacy of the occasion.

What They’re Saying

"Classical music [has the] singular power to transform, unite and liberate. There is perhaps no orchestra in the world that personifies those ideals like the RNO."

Palm Beach Illustrated