Gianadnrea Noseda and the BBC Philharmonic have the work’s measure and their performance has a full-blooded intensity and fire. Tempos are well judged and orchestral textures well blended. Noseda balances a strong sense of the piece’s architecture with its expressive eloquence and rich nostalgia it is a reading that can rank alongside the classic Ormandy and Pletnev accounts, both of whom bring a special authority to the Symphony.
BBC Music Magazine
Chandos’s superbly weighty yet detailed sound registers every tiny inflection of this mesmerising score, from the insinuating brooding opening to the work’s terrifying climax as Charon, the ferryman of the dead from Greek mythology, delivers the latest body to its final resting place. Once heard, this awesome work will haunt your memory for days.
Classic FM Magazine
[It] receivers a landmark performance from the BBC Philharmonic and Gianandrea Noseda… Noseda demonstrates the music’s power, eloquent beauty and structural cohesion.
Listening to this exhilarating performance – now a repertory piece, though still rarely programmed in concert – it is hard to fathom its initial lack of success. Chandos’s brilliant recording enhances a performance that takes us on an emotional rollercoaster ride: the passion and despair of the composer’s unrequited love for a married women is drawn with febrile drama here.
This outstanding performance is well complemented by Rachmaninov’s unfinished ‘youth’ Symphony, written when he was only 17,and the ‘Isle of the Dead’, a dark musical response to the gloomy painting of Arnold Bocklin.
Yet even this splendid reading [Isle of the Dead] along with the hard-to-find Youth Symphony must be deemed icing on the cake set beside Noseda’s white-hot account of Rachmaninoff’s still sorely underrated D minor – a wonderful piece, wondrously set forth by the BBC players. If this is no one-off, it will be good to hear what Noseda does with the Second Symphony.
American Record Guide
Noseda’s notable Rachmaninov cycle with the BBC Philharmonic starts to arrive on CD. Nothing could be more liquid or gloomy that his reading of the superb poem The Isle of the Dead. His gifts for mood-juggling and structural flow ensure equally fine accounts of the student Youth Symphony and the composer’s official stormy Symphony No. 1. The full Chandos sound makes everything glow in the dark, especially the shadowy scherzo.
Gianandrea Noseda’s performance of the First Symphony projects an unstuffy demeanour and trim athleticism to remind the listener that Rachmaninov was still a young man of 21 when he embarked upon it. Unlike some of his bigger-name colleagues, Noseda eschews sensation for its own sake and gratuitous point-making. Emotions are always under control (the slow movement’s hesitant love song radiates sweet innocence), and he secures a conspicuously well coordinated response from his Manchester band.
This [the Symphony] is beautifully done… However, the masterpiece on the disc is of course Isle of the Dead. Aided by a recording of excellent range and depth, Noseda gives a strong and colourful performance.
International Record Review