This well recorded disc, first issued in 1986, followed on from Janson's calling card of the fifth symphony with the same forces and also issued by Chandos. That recording was hailed by many critics as the best recording then available which was some judgement given the sheer number of fine alternatives available of such core repertoire.
Nevertheless that disc still rules supreme for a great many collectors and this sixth is of the same quality. Jansons certainly had the measure of these two symphonies at that time - and also the fourth of the same vintage.
This is one of the most exciting and compelling performances of this symphony that I have ever heard. To his eternal credit, Jansons simply plays it straight, trusting in the power of the writing. Consequently the third movement has sustained drive throughout at the perfect pace to be slow enough to expose all the orchestral detail yet fast enough to create compulsive excitement.
The pacing of all the other movements shows the same perfect balance between clarity of detail and forward pace. All the climatic points are therefore excitingly delivered and the more reflective moments are emotionally satisfying. Backed up by superb orchestral playing and excellent sound this disc still thrills as it has done since being bought as long ago as 1986.
At under 44 minutes this can be seen as short value economically. It always was. However, some discs simply cannot be measured in that way. In terms of musical value this is still of the top rank.
I would suggest that this disc and its companions, 4 and 5, are something of a special event. I would suggest they are the jewels of the earlier complete coverage and worth buying separately.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com:4.0 out of 5 stars 1 review
4.0 out of 5 starsA Very Fine Pathetique25 May 2014
By PianoReview - Published on Amazon.com
Perhaps some of Janson's best conducting was during this period, where he had been conducting the St.Petersburg Orchestra as well. This may have influenced his performance of the Pathetique, as it is very fine here. Jansons may have made recordings with better orchestras later in his career and some pretty good, but his conducting here is as good as he would be later on.