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Posted October 1, 2010
This symphony strikes me as more mellow than its title "Dramatic" suggests. Still it is some of the "old gold" of the 19th century. The notes emphasize the conventional classical scoring of the orchestra and of the formal design of the first movement. I assume that the Mendelssohnian scoring is lighter than in the works of symphonists who succeeded Rubinstein. Although I admire the symphonies of Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Bruckner, Sibelius, Elgar, Rachmaninoff and Shostakovich, I see no reason to set their innovations up as a standard against which to condemn the conventionality of Rubinstein and Raff. All music is conventional. The only issue is what a given work achieves with its conventions. Rubinstein and Raff fill the chronological interval between the last symphony of Schumann and the first of Brahms. Standard critical wisdom of one type maintains that Verdi's operas overshadowed the symphony in those twenty-five years just as the powerful symphonies of Beethoven eclipsed the operas of Cherubini, Spohr and Rossini over the first twenty-five years of the century. Still Beethoven's symphonic greatness is no reason to neglect Cherubini's Les deux journees and Les Abencerages, Spohr's Faust and Jessonda or Rossini's Semiramide and Guillaume Tell. The same logic applies to the symphonies of Rubinstein and Raff in the period of Verdi and Wagner. It appears to me that the greatness of Beethoven only adds to the value of Cherubini, Spohr and Rossini. The same is true of any comparison between Rubinstein and Raff and the great opera composers of their day. If Rubinstein won praise in his own day, he can win praise now by anyone who actually enjoys 19th century music.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.