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4.0 out of 5 stars The March of Fate, 1 Nov. 2011
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Nicholas Casley (Plymouth, Devon, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Tchaikovsky: Symphonies Nos 4,5 &6 Pathétique (Audio CD)
I usually find that performances of orchestral works recorded in the 1960s have a passion and a willingness to be radical that the more recent bland interpretations leave out (with some honourable exceptions). I had hoped that Igor Markevitch's interpretations of Tchaikovsky's last three symphonies - recorded in 1963, 1966, and 1962 respectively - would fall into the former category. Unfortunately, it did not work this time, but that is not to say that the performances are not good. Far from it.

The fourth is vigorous, tight, and disciplined, although a little mechanical in the padding of the second movement. But there is a welcome jauntiness to the same movement's second subject. The sound is good rather than very good; not every aspect of the orchestral score can be heard with the clarity evident in some other recordings from the 1960s on the market. (Compare Mravinsky's)

The sound is better in the fifth, where a speedy second subject in the first movement leads to an impressive transition into the development. This is another disciplined performance. The tuttis are a joy to behold and there are well-managed contrasts of volume. The only disappointment is that some of the tempi are not to my liking. In line with most conductors, Markevitch sees the symphony's coda as a false victory.

The sound is generally good for the sixth, and very good in times of high drama. Markevitch adopts a wide range of dynamics. For example, the opening bars are slower than slow, but the height of the first movement's development is frenzied. (Here, Markevitch fulfils my criteria of a typical 1960s recording.) The repetitive second movement is here refreshingly enlivening, and the third has its effective quirks, especially in the last few minutes. The finale is suitably sombre.

John Warrack provides some interesting sleevenotes in which he enumerates the symphonies in terms of Tchaikovsky's relationship with fate: the fourth sees fate eluded; the fifth witnesses a hollow triumph; but the sixth brings about the composer's final defeat by his adversary.

Overall, then, not a bad set. This double-CD package can be recommended. But there are better sets to be heard.
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5.0 out of 5 stars But Symphonies 4 and 5 are terrific: 4, 15 Jun. 2015
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This review is from: Tchaikovsky: Symphonies Nos 4,5 &6 Pathétique (Audio CD)
As other reviewers have noted, this is an odd situation. This is one half of Markevich's complete set of the Tchaikovsky symphonies. The other half (Symphonies 1-3) is readily available; this second disc (Symphonies 4-6) is not. However, it is not too difficult to find a reasonably priced copy second-hand, as I did; and the set as a whole has to be one of the top contenders. I was not completely convinced by Markevich's reading of the Pathetique; in the 'tragic' last movement, certainly, Pletnev (likewise the complete symphonies, and another top contender) is greatly preferable. But Symphonies 4 and 5 are terrific: 4, in particular, comes close to knocking Szell's incredible recording (likewise with the LSO: see my separate review of that item) off the top spot. At a bargain price for two discs, this double album, along with its companion, should be in every Tchaikovsky lover's collection - along with Pletnev's very generous (and keenly priced) boxed set on DG.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful performances, 14 Feb. 2014
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This review is from: Tchaikovsky: Symphonies Nos 4,5 &6 Pathétique (Audio CD)
I used to have the third and fourth symphonies from this cycle on tape which suffered from great hiss transferred at a low level though I still enjoyed the performances and recently bought this complete set on cd after hearing download extracts. This set has been overshadowed by more celebrated recordings, several of which I own Abbado, Karajan, Muti, Maazel, Jansons included. The 1960s recordings hold up well for their age and demonstrate a rich bass. These are full- blooded powerful performances and I wish I had purchased them when they were first available on cd. The last movement of the sixth is not as elegiac or as spacious as the finest accounts but I found it powerfully gripping in a direct incisive way. The interplay of pizzicato strings in the fourth symphony is a memorable highlight of this disc.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Tchaikovsky symphonies 4 - 6 Markevitch LSO, 25 Mar. 2014
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This review is from: Tchaikovsky: Symphonies Nos 4,5 &6 Pathétique (Audio CD)
These are excellent performances & the recording is good in spite of its age {Between 1962 & 64}. Highly recommended.
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Tchaikovsky: Symphonies Nos 4,5 &6 Pathétique
Tchaikovsky: Symphonies Nos 4,5 &6 Pathétique by Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky (Audio CD - 1993)
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