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Matty J Hifi
Classical Rough and Ready, April 2010

…but an interesting contrast is the other large-scale effort in the list—Rubinstein’s 2nd symphony (‘Ocean’). It’s significantly longer than ‘A Sea Symphony,’ but manages to avoid any feeling of excess. It moves purposefully, it isn’t carrying the baggage of verse, and it’s divided into seven individual movements, none of which are too big to be easily comprehended. Tuneful, dramatic, accessible, a delight from the first note to the last, it’s filled with musical devices which would be commandeered by film composers decades hence and I think Rubinstein deserves credit for a form of originality that scarcely anyone in his own day could have even recognized. So why is he utterly forgotten today, or nearly forgotten? You know all the reasons—we’ve been over them before: he was old school when old school wasn’t cool, he was Russian when German was cool, or German when Russian was cool depending on your point of view, and he was Jewish at a time when that was never cool. He was completely ripped off by his nationality, the timing of his birth, the prejudices against his religion, by every imaginable circumstance. Well, he managed to leave us some really great music in spite of it all. This one is a keeper…

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