I have not seen many recommendations for classical music in this thread, so I thought I would throw this album out there. I branched out into classical music about 1980 after previously listening solely to pop/rock. At that time I was finding it difficult to discover new popular/rock artists that were to my taste, so decided to try and tap into the wealth of untried classical compositions. When CD came to market this was one of my early CD purchases. This album, particularly The Symphonic Dances , became one of my favourites. It was Rachmaninov’s last composition. It seems to me that there was an urgency in this music, and that urgency is portrayed brilliantly in this performance.
Listen for the alto saxophone in the first dance, during a really beautiful section of the music. This final composition is definitely a masterpiece in my view. This was the first version of this work that I heard, and it just sounds right. (Does anyone else feeI that they seem to connect more to the first version they hear, and it sometimes becomes difficult to give alternative versions the time of day?). I just tried a snippet of the Rattle/BPO version and it seemed very ponderous, in comparison with Ashkenazy and the Concertgebouw. Enjoy.