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Daniel Jaffé
BBC Music Magazine, June 2010

Slatkin’s live performance with the DSO which really held attention…here is a performance warmed by musicians who clearly love this symphony…hearing his performance one is convinced that his musicians are truly inside the music emotionally.

Mark J. Estren
The Washington Post, March 2010

The quality of the string and brass playing in Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2 is the CD’s strongest point. The orchestra stays together at all speeds and in all rhythms…its evenness is attractive, especially at Slatkin’s often-speedy tempos…Yet this reading as a whole has considerable dramatic power, with an effective first-movement climax and some beautiful clarinet playing in the slow movement…The CD also includes Rachmaninoff’s famous Vocalise, which is played with beauty but a slight overdose of swooning expressiveness.

Malcolm Hayes
Classic FM, March 2010

Slatkin’s willingness to give his players plenty of time brings a classy response. In the slow movement’s beautiful main tune, too, the principal clarinettist is as haunting a soloist as you’ll hear.

John J. Puccio
Classical Candor, February 2010

It is quite a feather in Naxos’s cap to have so distinguished a conductor as Leonard Slatkin, now Music Director of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, recording for them. Slatkin had long been associated with RCA, EMI, and other labels, where he made over 100 fine recordings. Naxos acknowledges the present disc, one of several Slatkin has made for them over the past few years, by affording the jewel box its own slipcover, always a sign of a prestige product…Mostly, the conductor…emphasiz[es] the work’s more lyrical elements rather than its splashier dramatics.

So the brooding first movement is just that: more meditative, thoughtful, and subdued than electrifying. Slatkin begins to hit his stride in the quicker second-movement Scherzo, though, where the temperature rises significantly from the preceding segment. Following that, the Adagio comes across with an abundance of wistful longing, and it’s here that Slatkin is at his absolute best. Although his tempo is actually a touch fast for my taste, he imbues the music with an appropriate melancholy.

In the Finale, marked Allegro Vivace, Rachmaninov seemed determined to out-Tchaikovsky Tchaikovsky with a huge, theatrical production. Slatkin gives it his best shot, while maintaining some degree of decorum until the very end, where he plainly gives in to the composer’s demand for plenty of juice…As a fill-up, we find Rachmaninov’s Vocalise, also well rendered.

Peter J Rabinowitz
International Record Review, February 2010

The Detroit Symphony has always been a better ensemble than its reputation would suggest, and there’s much to admire here too: the brass playing is generally excellent (the stopped horns are especially effective), and the strings manage to provide sweetness without cloying…well worth your attention.

David Denton
David's Review Corner, January 2010

The first release in a new collaboration between Naxos and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, and featuring their newly appointed Music Director, Leonard Slatkin. They have chosen a symphony well suited to the warm, refined and full bodied string tone, the unforced quality building the ardent passion that is the work’s touchstone. Slatkin offers a superbly controlled and sure-footed account, allowing the opening movement to smoulder with a sense of latent power, only bursting into flame in its closing pages. I also much enjoy the tightly controlled fugal passage in the second movement where many orchestras dash away with rather more exuberance than precision. He then avoids undue sentimentality in the third movement, moving the music forward at a well-chosen pulse, and it contrasts perfectly with the brassy opening of the finale, setting the scene for Slatkin to bring the work home in a glorious blaze of primary colours. Whenever Rachmaninov gives them a chance the Detroit brass display their excellently balanced team, with the many woodwind solos always a delight and of exquisite quality. The catalogue is rather overflowing with recordings, many, including a previous Naxos release, having something very special to offer. With Slatkin you end up feeling complete satisfaction in a performance that you would be happy to live with as your one and only library copy. The disc opens with the wordless song, Vocalise, heard in its orchestral guise, Slatkin’s gentle approach much in keeping with its origins. The symphony is a ‘live’ recording of outstanding quality, and Detroit should be exceedingly happy with a disc that makes one eagerly look forward to future releases.

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