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Classical - Released August 1, 1999 | Warner Classics

Distinctions Diapason d'or - Choc de Classica - The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Symphonic Music - Released February 7, 2011 | Warner Classics International

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Gramophone Editor's Choice - Hi-Res Audio
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Symphonic Music - Released October 1, 2000 | Warner Classics International

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Gramophone Record of the Year - Hi-Res Audio
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Classical - Released August 23, 2013 | Warner Classics

Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Exceptional sound
While Sergey Rachmaninov is not usually ranked with the great orchestrators, he showed ingenuity when inspired and created some highly effective scores, notably the choral cantata The Bells, and his final composition, the Symphonic Dances. This 2014 album by Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic makes a good case for Rachmaninov's skillful and often brilliant treatment of the orchestra. Even though actual ringing sounds were obvious choices and unavoidable in The Bells (a setting of Konstantin Balmont's adaptation of the poem by Edgar Allan Poe), they were used sparingly, and much of the impact of the music is made by the complex and colorful orchestral writing, which is rather free of clichés. Furthermore, the choral writing is an intrinsic part of Rachmaninov's orchestration, smoothly woven into the textures of the instruments and deployed for its own rich palette. The Symphonic Dances, originally intended to be choreographed as a ballet by Mikhail Fokine, has been performed almost exclusively as a concert piece, and its appeal is due in no small part to its transparent, chamber-like scoring and the open interplay between the instruments, which display kaleidoscopic shifts of color. Rattle's sympathetic readings capture every tonal nuance and dynamic shading, and the choir, vocalists, and orchestra respond to his direction as a single ensemble, its sole purpose to convey Rachmaninov's powerful music with vividness and depth.
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Classical - Released August 5, 2011 | Warner Classics

Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - 4F de Télérama
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Opera - Released March 1, 2013 | Warner Classics International

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Hi-Res Audio
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Symphonic Music - Released August 12, 2009 | Warner Classics International

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Hi-Res Audio
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Classical - Released August 1, 2005 | Warner Classics

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Hi-Res Audio
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Symphonic Music - Released August 6, 2007 | Warner Classics International

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Hi-Res Audio
This live recording of a group of Haydn's late masterworks lies at the intersection of several tales of trouble -- that of Simon Rattle's conductorship of the venerable Berlin Philharmonic, that of the EMI label's flagging fortunes and those of the classical recording industry in general, and that of the attempts of the massive symphony orchestras rooted in the nineteenth century to remain relevant in music written by composers who for the most part had no inkling of their existence. The results are, well, troubled. Rattle tries to borrow a page from the authentic-performance book, using a small group of strings with little vibrato and striving for transparent textures that reveal Haydn's wind and horn parts. The trouble is that he seems stuck in a 1970s conception of historical performance, apparently believing that it means interpretations that are restrained to the point of being pinched, yet at the same time outrageously unorthodox. A few hours of listening to the Haydn recordings of Thomas Fey and the Ensemble La Passione would have set him straight on the issue of restraint, but what you get here are recordings that, as flawlessly as the Berliners may play, are pretty lifeless. Hear the mushy, directionless slow introduction to the first movement of the Symphony No. 91 (CD 2, track 1), for example. Rattle's tinkering with the score (he has an odd way of making phrases back off dynamically in mid-utterance, robbing Haydn of his robust good cheer) largely fails to convince. His tempos are fast to the point of breakneck, destroying the minuets' fun-at-the-expense-of-the-courtiers mood and turning the great false endings of the Symphony No. 90 in C major into nervous, slightly unpleasant moments. That finale appears on disc 1 in two separate versions, one with the audience breaking mistakenly into applause (and then laughter) at the false ending, the other with the applause edited out (the timing of this one is way off in the track list, incidentally). This doesn't really come off, for on all the rest of the recordings audience sound of all kinds is ruthlessly edited out -- the applause, when it does happen, sounds like a horror film effect, and the eerie sonic backdrop sounds as though someone couldn't decide whether the recording was live or studio. There are good moments here -- the sly opening movement of the Sinfonia Concertante in B flat major, where Rattle's restraint becomes a virtue, and the detailed thinking-out of some of the development sections -- but the set as a whole is too clever by half.
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Choral Music (Choirs) - Released January 17, 2005 | Warner Classics International

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Classical - Released January 7, 2008 | Warner Classics International

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Hi-Res Audio
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Vocal Music (Secular and Sacred) - Released April 15, 2002 | Warner Classics International

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Hi-Res Audio
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Symphonic Music - Released February 15, 2010 | Warner Classics International

Hi-Res Distinctions Hi-Res Audio
Simon Rattle's 2002 live recording of Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 5 in C sharp minor was assembled from several concerts in September of that year, so the resulting performance on disc has a slightly variable quality between movements, which can be detected in the levels of the Berlin Philharmonic's enthusiasm. The overall playing is good, but the orchestra seems somewhat diffuse and desultory in the first two movements, and most vigorously engaged in the last three. How much editing within movements occurred is difficult to guess, though if the unexpected changes of tempo and odd dynamic levels of the "Trauermarsch" and the "Stürmisch bewegt" are any indication, there was probably some sonic surgery performed there. The cogent feeling of the rest of the symphony suggests that the playing was all of a piece and up to expected levels, with only the barest suggestion of the earlier flagging of energy. This recording is certainly fine for study purposes, and possibly good for a beginner's first hearing of this symphony, but it's hard to rate it much higher because of its strange episodes of languid playing. Furthermore, as solid as Rattle is in most repertoire, his Mahler is not as coherent, vibrant, or exciting as many other conductors' renditions on the market, and listeners need not settle for this interpretation of the Symphony No. 5 with dozens of great recordings readily available.
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Classical - Released November 20, 2005 | Warner Classics International

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Opera - Released September 4, 2003 | Warner Classics International

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Classical - Released March 5, 2007 | Warner Classics International

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Hi-Res Audio
In his 2007 EMI recording of Johannes Brahms' Ein Deutsches Requiem, Op. 45, Simon Rattle aims for a somewhat streamlined and fleeter interpretation than is usually heard: with moderate tempos, he trims approximately five to eight minutes off the conventional timing, though he maintains the deeply reverent feeling that is expected and preserves the structure of this expansive seven-movement work in his steady, proportional pacing. The recordings were made between October 26 and 29, 2006, so the composite performance on this CD is remarkable for its consistency, smoothness, and balance, a success that is not always found on Rattle's other live discs. The playing by the Berlin Philharmonic and the singing of the Berlin Radio Choir are close to flawless, and the moving solos by baritone Thomas Quasthoff in "Herr, lehre doch mich" and soprano Dorothea Röschmann in "Ihr habt nun Traurigkeit" are splendid in their technical control and sublime in their expressive depth. The reproduction on this album is slightly unfocused and a bit distant, possibly due to the microphone placement, but the intensity of the singing fully comes across, and the orchestra's timbres and textures are quite audible, if lacking in vibrancy and presence.
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Classical - Released February 6, 2013 | Warner Classics International

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Hi-Res Audio
Staggeringly well performed and recorded, this 2008 EMI disc of Berlioz's Symphonie fantastique performed by the Berliner Philharmoniker under Simon Rattle is highly entertaining. Over and over again, the listener is impressed by the super virtuoso playing of the Berlin musicians by the way they blend and contrast in the opening movement, sparkle and shine in the waltz, murmur in the pastoral, roar in the march, and howl in closing fugue. Similarly, Rattle's masterful control of the music and the musicians and the way he creates satisfyingly effective climaxes is also quite remarkable. Captured in "in-your-face" digital sound by EMI that puts the Berlin right in front of the listener, this all makes for a very appealing performance of a standard repertoire work. When coupled with Berlioz's far less groundbreaking but only slightly less attractive La mort de Cléopâtre sung with incredibly intensity and consummate musicality by mezzo-soprano Susan Graham, this will no doubt be the first choice for many listeners coming to the works for the first time. Old timers, of course, will already have their favorite performances of both, and to them, these performances may seem glib and superficial compared with the classic performances of Beecham, Davis, Cluytens, Monteux, and Münch in the Symphonie and of Baker and Tourel in La mort de Cléopâtre. But this argument may just seem like older listeners pulling rank on younger listeners and does nothing to detract from their enjoyment of the present disc.
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Symphonic Music - Released August 26, 2013 | Warner Classics International

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Hi-Res Audio
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Classical - Released August 4, 2008 | Warner Classics

Distinctions Diapason d'or
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Classical - Released August 23, 2004 | Warner Classics International

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Hi-Res Audio