September 18 & 19, 2019, Barbican Hall, Simon Rattle and the LSO give two performances of ‘Rach 2’: the end-result is this recording, which is opulent and glamorous-sounding, somewhat at-odds with the venue itself when experienced from within, and with a quotient of glossiness that can undermine the soul of this music.

That said, Rattle and the players capture well the brooding and emotional turmoil of the first movement (given without its exposition repeat) in music-making that is impassioned and, as throughout, alive to dynamics and detailing, and it’s good to report that Sir Simon no longer entertains (LA Philharmonic recording for EMI; LSO Barbican concert in June 2016) an unsolicited and crass timpani stroke at the very end, although the lower strings could be more incisive. Come the Finale and Rattle’s moderate tempo begins to feel dogged, so that the quickening of pace in the coda – probably cueing an ecstatic audience response (removed anyway, rightly LSO Live policy) – comes across as hollow when away from ‘being there’.

Of the middle movements, the Adagio, graced by Chris Richards’s clarinet solo, is conducted con amore, but the expansive tempo doesn’t quite sustain what becomes a fifteen-minute wallow. Best of all is the preceding Scherzo, athletic, luscious, and with ‘lifts’ in all the right places, executed with thrilling virtuosity. LSO Live LSO0851 [SACD].