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Tchaikovsky: Symphonies No. 4 & 2 "Little Russian"
 
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Tchaikovsky: Symphonies No. 4 & 2 "Little Russian"

10 April 1990 | Format: MP3

£6.99 (VAT included if applicable)
Also available in CD Format
Song Title Artist
Time
Popularity  
30
1
18:14
30
2
9:08
30
3
5:42
30
4
8:34
30
5
10:40
30
6
7:10
30
7
5:17
30
8
10:36
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Product details

  • Original Release Date: 1 Jan. 1990
  • Release Date: 10 April 1990
  • Label: Decca (UMO)
  • Copyright: (C) 1990 Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Hamburg
  • Record Company Required Metadata: Music file metadata contains unique purchase identifier. Learn more.
  • Total Length: 1:15:21
  • Genres:
  • ASIN: B001N8M47K
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 196,061 in Albums (See Top 100 in Albums)

Customer Reviews

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By I. Giles HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on 5 Oct. 2013
Format: Audio CD
These two performances originally issued in 1968 (no. 2) and 1976 (no. 4) show Abbado off to unusually good effect in Tchaikovsky, a composer that has casued some doubt among his many admirers.

Abbado has always been renowned for his meticulous care for balance, musical form and many other factors affecting performance. However sheer animal passion and drive have not been readily apparent and especially that has applied to his recorded Tchaikovsky. Not so on these two performances.

To digress to make a relevant point, one of the most exciting performances, and one that radiates sheer joy, is the 'live' performance that Abbado recorded with the BPO in Japan in 1994. Glances of individual and corporate pleasure are caught by the camera as they are exchanged in the build up to the very exciting conclusion to the symphony and to an excellent concert. Equally, there is another 'live' recording of Abbado conducting the 'Tempest' in Stockholm with the BPO in 1998. Once more, passion and excitement is palpable. Both of these recordings are still available on Euroarts and clearly illustrate sides of Abbado's music making that do not always come over in studio recordings, especially in Tchaikovsky.

Thus is is with this exciting account of the 4th symphony which has an unusual drive and forward commitment for a studio recording sufficient to match even Szell in his famous recording of the 4th with the LSO over a decade earlier. Indeed, the VPO play with an intensity and freshness that make one wonder if this studio recording was recorded with long enough 'takes' to suggest a 'live' occasion rather similar to the circumstances of the Szell recording.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By C. Gonczar on 27 Mar. 2013
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
There are many reviews here, so I'll have my humble say about this CD.

Abbado and the two orchestras shine throughout the program. I know the fourth symphony since I heard the finale as introduction to the first radio broadcast in stereo in my native country (you had to use two radio receivers to hear the stereo effect). I was first under the musical tutelage of my elder brother; I heard vinyls only by the best orchestras and conductors for it was necessary to choose well what you bought - LPs were not cheap for us, two young enthusiasts of classical music.

After more than five decades of collecting recordings, and with a special love for the music of Tchaikovsky, Schubert and Mozart, I end up with some outstanding versions of these symphonies - and many more attempts by lesser bands.

The quality of these readings by Abbado is impressively good, maybe just behind readings by Mravinsky and Svetlanov with their respective impressive orchestras. However, maestro Abbado shows an excellent understanding of how Tchaikovsky's music should be played, especially in these two symphonies with some themes belonging to Russian folk melodies - nothing new in Tchaikovsky's music. Given the age of the recordings (1967), the remastering was done so well that the sound of this album is more than acceptable - it's actually quite good, even for the discerning ear. The orchestras - the Wiener Philharmoniker in No.4 and the New Philharmonia - respond to Abbado's verve and sound simply great. All instrument groups are well heard, and the heavy winds are captured according to these spirited opuses.

Fans of good music and good performances: Here's an anthology disc at giveaway price. It will be appreciated by both beginners and connoisseurs. At least that's what I believe. Enjoy the music!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mr. N.H. on 14 Feb. 2012
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This is a digitally remastered CD from performances in 1968. While it sounds just a little shrill throughout, it is the equal of many D-D-D productions I have come across, though far from perfect acoustically.

Putting aside the limitations of the audio quality for a moment, I was particularly struck by the wonderful craftsmanship on display in these pieces. Abbado is not a conductor I have followed closely over the years, but this CD makes me realise I must have been missing a lot of really good performances. Coupled here with the New Philharmonia, he excels in bringing out the lyrical aspects of these works as well as the blood and thunder: the orchestra play out of their skins, with precision, delicacy (where called for), and feeling. This is music of great beauty, making the inner contrasts even more poignant, and there is very little in the way of deviation from the score in terms of tempo, dynamics, or phrasing, which is an art in itself.

Abbado's management of the string section is awesome. It is tight but fluid, precise but natural-sounding: an amazing feat of control. Equally, the woodwind is allowed to shine through without being sidelined, (unlike the triangle) while the brass shows considerable restraint in certain passages where other conductors let rip, but not in the opening fanfare of the 4th or the closing bars of either work. With a couple of notable exceptions, the timpani are also on a bit of a leash, but this allows the music to come through more clearly from the other sections. The cymbal clashes are a real mixed bag: now and then they sound very realistic, but all too often they disappear in a bit of general mushiness. At one brief point in the 2nd I thought I heard a snare drum, and there is none - that is how mushy it got at one point.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 10 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Why didn't Abbado always conduct Tchaikovsky like this? 4 Oct. 2012
By Andrew R. Barnard - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Those who read my reviews know that I find most of Abbado's Tchaikovsky lacking the all-important final thrust of commitment. His Chicago readings of the last three symphonies struck me as well-played and interesting but missing passion. I thought extended experience might increase his skills, but his later reading of the 5th with the Berlin Phil wasn't much more imaginative, just better played. So it's surprising to discover that there was a time when Abbado allowed himself to be fully immersed in the emotional sound world of the symphonies, not just their lavish orchestration. What happened that caused Abbado to neglect his youthful self and become more staid in his later attempts at Tchaikovsky?

Listening to this 4th, it's clear that Abbado isn't a pessimist or overly concerned about tragedy. He's optimistic, actually, searching for light between the bars. There's no attempt to take on interpreters who see this symphony as a sprawling ball of tragedy. He's saved by the choice to be himself, letting his youthful fervency go unhindered. He sounds as if he truly loves the work instead of merely being enamored by its orchestration. But the orchestration does sound beautiful in his hands, with a Vienna Phil that plays sumptuously for him. In this end this isn't a revolutionary account, just one that brims with fancy and textures that comes to life unburdened. Abbado's best moment comes in the 3rd movement, where Vienna masters the pizzicato section so superbly that Karajan's Berlin would be sent to the practice room to compete. The whole reading is lovely, if you can forgive him for not being rigid and failing to speak of dark things.

Better yet is the dazzling 2nd with the Philharmonia. Abbado lends himself fully to the balletic-sounding symphony. Everything is sprightly, with our feet rarely touching the ground. Karajan's rigidity in Berlin, as big-sounding as it was, simply can't compete. I can't even say that Bernstein's New York reading is significantly better, if better at all. Abbado is teeming with adventure coupled with childlike joy. Everything is so exuberant you forget that Tchaikovsky hadn't yet reached his prime. This isn't just a polite reading, though. There's real drama; Abbado builds momentum and doesn't let the line sag. Abbado's main advantage his still his youthful ambition. When he emphasizes that strength while sounding completely mature, the result is a reading that sends competition scrambling.

I'm delighted to have discovered that there was a time when Abbado gave Tchaikovsky his all. What caused this early inspiration to be replaced by self-consciousness?
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Good but not great Tchaikovsky 2 & 4 from Abbado 2 May 2014
By jt52 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This is a solid recording but I don’t quite share the enthusiasm of the other reviewers at Amazon. The disc is a re-release of a 1968 recording of the 2nd the recently-deceased Claudio Abbado did with the New Philharmonia Orchestra and a 1976 recording of the 4th he did with the Vienna Philharmonic. The sound in the 4th is good while the 2nd it is only fair, with some distortion and lack of body apparent in my system.

I directly compared Abbado’s 4th symphony with an older Soviet version from Evgeny Mravinsky and the Leningrad Philharmonic and found the Mravinsky to be more expressive and exciting. The Abbado interpretation, while technically very well-executed, is flat and relatively unemotional. This is especially apparent in the Scherzo, my personal favorite movement in the 4th, where the dynamic contrasts and tempo flexibility infused by Mravinsky is absent in the Abbado, to its detriment.

Abbado’s 2nd Symphony is better in the interpretation department than the 4th – but it’s also a weaker work and, as mentioned, harmed by mediocre engineering. Compared to the well-regarded Telarc version of the 2nd from Lorin Maazel and the Pittsburgh Symphony, I’d give a marginal edge to the Abbado performance. Both are good, with the Abbado boasting a bit more life and vivacity and the Maazel boasting superior sound and benefiting from a pairing with Rimsky-Korsakov’s beautiful “Antar.”

So this is a solid CD, to be purchased for its 2nd symphony rather than the 4th.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
maybe the best no. 2 out there 13 Dec. 2012
By Arnar - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Here is an outstanding interpretation of Tchaikovsky's 2nd symphony. The atmospheric Russian folk themes rise to the fore without ever undermining the structure of the symphony. Only Antal Dorati's version compares to this performance.

Abbado's take on the 4th symphony on the other hand is somewhat less impressive. It's a good, solid take on the symphony but not very exciting. It's solid but a little bit stolid, so to speak. Abbado takes no risks so the music does not come to life in the same way as the 2nd on this CD. Still, very presentable.

On the whole, this is a great CD.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Abbado's early Tchaikovsky may be his very best 17 May 2009
By Santa Fe Listener - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
There's a brisk trade in early Abbado recordings, and the only reason that this one sells so cheaply, I imagine, is that Amazon's search engine makes it hard to find. The "Little Russian" from 1968 was done at the vry outset of Abbado's recording career, albeit he was already 35. The Fourth Sym. dates from 1976. His contemporary Beethoven cycle with the Vienna Phil. is a dud, but this Fourth is strikingly full of energy and vibrancy. The first movement is swift at 18 min. and carries almost no tragic weight -- it's more like Liszt in its histrionic exuberance.

The orchestra plays with enthusiasm, giving no hint that they might be bored with such thrice-familiar music. The quick pace helps, and it continues into the second movement, to which the old-fashioned whiny Viennese oboe adds a spicy flavor. We are at a far remove from Bernstein's portentous way with this symphony, but the world has room for both approaches. The Vienna Phil. has had its ups and downs over the decades, but the string section has remained incomparable, as they display in a thrillingly unified Scherzo, where the unison pizzicatos are perfection. I like the fact that Abbado doesn't take the finale at breakneck speed; his pacing allows a little breathing room. Still, an overall timing of 41 min. is one of the fastest on records, a full 7 min. quicker than Bernstein on DG.

You can get Abbado's last three Tchaikovsky symphonies on a bargain two-fer from DG, but I think this CD is the only way to get his "Little Russian." There are unique problems in holding together this sprawling early work without allowing it to dissipate into a ballet suite, or a series of disconnected episdoes, and the finale needs to be grand without sounding grandiose. The score is tricky enough that I know of few truly successful recordings. Giulini did very well with the Philharmonia just a few years before this recording; perhaps the musicians remember it from him, because the first movement, so often a letdown, is energized and exciting in both recordings. Abbado is a bit lower in voltage, however.

The march in the second movement is marked "martial" (marziale) in character, but it's toy soldiers on parade, as in the Nutcracker. Abbado captures the movement's simplicity and its hints of melancholy nicely. The Scherzo is bouncy and balletic, with sprightly woodwinds -- one could hardly ask for beter, especially because the equally fine Giulini on EMI comes in very sketchy sound compared to this recording. Tchaikovsky tells the conductor nto to slow down for the Trio, and Abbado scrupulously obeys; not everyone else does. To top off a superb erformance, Abbado catches the grand swagger of the finale without making it sound grandiloquent.

What rivals does he have in the "Little Russian"? Mravinsky never recorded the work to my knowledge, nor has Gergiev to date, but among the usual Russian suspects, Svetlanov would be fiery enough except that in his several recordings he takes a perversely slow tempo in the second movement. Dorati and Markevitch have their staunch fans. Bernstein is very good with the NY Phil., and there's the aforementioned Giulini. Among complete sets Abbado from Chicago, Mehta from New York, Muti from London, Temirkanov, also from London, and Karajan on his two sets for EMI and DG all fall considerably short of the present CD. So despite the trouble, it's worth seeking out.

P.S. - It happened that I posted my review on the same day as Mr. VanDeDande, who found Abbado's remake of the "Little Russian" with the Chicago Sym. "hair raising" and a "big improvement" over his first try. I relistened to both recordings in case I missed something. The later recording on Sony is no great shakes technically, but is has a bigger soundstage. The timpani sound is actually clearer on the earlier DG. Tempos are the same, sometimes down to a second or two. the two readings aren't easy to tell apart, but I stand by my claim that the earlier account is fresher. In any case, no big improvement is perceivable.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2nd Symphony one of the best, 4th cool and emotionally flat 18 Dec. 2010
By HB - Published on Amazon.com
I have owned this CD for a very long time. The performance of the 2nd symphony is brilliant with lots of passion and excitement. The 4th is very cool with very little emotion. It is Tchaikovsky played in the style of Haydn and Mozart. In my opinion, it does not work. Next to the Pathetique, the 4th is Tchaikovsky's most emotional symphony. It needs passion to work. If you want a great recording of the 4th with superior playing I would suggest Muti and the Philadelphia Orchestra. And it is really passionate.
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