(…) The majority of the evening’s playing time was reserved for Rachmaninoff’s expansive, irresistibly melodious Symphony No. 2, whose hyper-Romantic symphonic rhetoric launched a thousand film scores. Denève chose to make it move, rumbling through the Scherzo with plenty of dash, giving the big tunes of the Adagio and that knockout lyrical passage in the Finale lots of room to breathe yet without exaggerating the built-in emotional payoff.
“More important, there was a sense of playfulness now in Shaham’s Bartók that wasn’t there before, (…) With Denève poking around the score revealing all kinds of strange details that the Philharmonic executed with relish, this team brought out the weirdness of this music that often gets buried nowadays underneath super-slick virtuosity. When Shaham gets around to rerecording the Bartók for his 1930s project, Denève would be a good match for him.