As far as Leonard Slatkin’s late-1970s/early-eighties Vox Rachmaninov cycle is concerned, this is the final frontier when the St. Louis Symphony was going boldly into projects (adding EMI, RCA et al) and emerging from them as multi award winners, a charismatic partnership with Slatkin being formed, appreciated on an international level. This current release includes a brooding and powerful Isle of the Dead, taken in one wholesome sweep. Contrast that with the teenage composer’s attractive Scherzo in D-minor, plagiarising Mendelssohn all the way, or the brilliant Caprice bohémien, full of gypsy-ardour and Cossack-scintillation in a performance that’s a humdinger, opening with wonderfully crisp timpani rhythms. Finally (if first on the disc), Symphonic Dances (1941), Rachmaninov’s fiery and nostalgic swansong, written for Ormandy and his Philadelphians. Pertinent to the work’s hybrid title, Slatkin is in Ormandy’s likeness (recorded 1960) while being distinctive on his own terms, illuminating and compelling throughout, the St. Louis musicians in close rapport with their conductor. As ever with these Audiophile reissues the Elite Recordings of Joanna Nickrenz and engineer Marc Aubort are expertly remastered by Mike Clements and Andrew Walton. VOXNX3042CD is released on May 24. There are at least two more SLS/Slatkin Vox releases expected: Pictures at an Exhibition and Prokofiev’s music for Eisenstein’s Ivan the Terrible.

https://naxosdirect.co.uk/labels/vox-classics-26971