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Kurt Sanderling conducts
1 CD | 49min | Nr. SWR19050CD
CD 1: » Modest Mussorgsky: Khovanshchina (Prelude to Act 1)
» Sergej Rachmaninow: Symphony No. 3 minor op. 44

The legendary conductor Kurt Sanderling was always a great admirer of Rachmaninov’s music. There is just one other, old recording of Sanderling conducting Rachmaninov’s Third Symphony. Another notable release in the SWR historic series.

Sanderling’s status as a living legend was due mainly to his performances of works by Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Mahler, Sibelius, Rachmaninov and Shostakovich. Seriousness, honesty, emotional balance, a profound feeling for the music and a lack of pretension are qualities that characterise Sanderling's musicianship.

The performances on this disc are from his Stuttgart concerts, beginning with Mussorgsky’s prelude to his unfinished opera Khovanshchina, the work he began after completing Boris Godunov. Sanderling did not use the version originally published by Rimsky-Korsakov, but Shostakovich’s orchestral version (from 1959), which is based on Mussorgsky’s original piano score and is still used today.

The other highlight of that evening was Sergey Rachmaninov’s Third Symphony. This was his last symphony and his penultimate orchestral work, a 45-minute piece in three movements, composed in 1935/36 (rev. 1938). Rachmaninov’s monumental Symphonies Nos. 2 and 3 always remained close to Sanderling’s heart. Violinist Efim Belsky of the Leningrad Philharmonic once said: “In my opinion, his interpretation of Rachmaninov’s Symphony No. 3 was his most brilliant achievement in the field of Russian music.”

Sanderling himself later recalled his recording of Rachmaninov’s Symphony No. 2 with the Leningrad orchestra for Deutsche Grammophon in Berlin in 1956: “At that time, I had something like a missionary feeling for Rachmaninov, whose music was rather frowned upon in the west. In 1956, showing feelings was just not on, it was considered to be salon music. Nowadays things have changed a lot and all of a sudden everyone plays his symphonies, which I performed – at that time – in the role of a missionary”.