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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful recordings of Tchaikovsky Symphonies1-3!!!
I haven't been a big fan of some of Valery Gergiev's recordings with the London Symphony Orchestra on their LSO label. For example their recording of Prokofiev's seven symphonies did nothing for me, but on the strength of some reviews I decided to try this two disc set of Tchaikovsky's first three symphonies. Gergiev and the LSO recorded them live in 2011 and I have to...
Published 7 months ago by And/Burro

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The winter symphony.
Somehow not as I remember it.Lacks expression and gives no feeling of Russia in winter.Not a satisfying buy.Can't
reccomend it.
Published 17 months ago by Pedro


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The winter symphony., 8 Mar 2013
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Somehow not as I remember it.Lacks expression and gives no feeling of Russia in winter.Not a satisfying buy.Can't
reccomend it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful recordings of Tchaikovsky Symphonies1-3!!!, 2 Jan 2014
I haven't been a big fan of some of Valery Gergiev's recordings with the London Symphony Orchestra on their LSO label. For example their recording of Prokofiev's seven symphonies did nothing for me, but on the strength of some reviews I decided to try this two disc set of Tchaikovsky's first three symphonies. Gergiev and the LSO recorded them live in 2011 and I have to say in this case I was not disappointed. Their performances of all three symphonies are excellent, especially the Third Symphony ("The Polish"), which was recorded at the Tonhalle in Zurich. Symphonies One and Two were recorded at the Barbican and show as far as Tchaikovsky is concerned Valery Gergiev knows what he is doing.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars What happened here?, 3 Oct 2012
By 
Steve (Leeds) - See all my reviews
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I thought I was going deaf. I'd put the first disc in the player, listening to the SACD layer, and could barely hear anything. I cranked up the volume - a bit better. Raising the volume a lot, at last things are audible. Why such a low level? I've gradually accumulated a fair number of hybrid SACDs over the years but have never had to increase the playback level so much. But even at audible levels, the sound is dry and seems to sap the life out of the first two symphonies. I couldn't work out whether it was the orchestra, the conductor, the recording, or all three that took the enjoyment out of listening to these tuneful early symphonies of Tchaikovsky.

Just in case it was me, or my equipment, I immediately followed up by listening to the 1st symphony as recorded (also live) on the other side of the Thames by the L.P.O. under Jurowski on the LPO label. What a difference! The orchestral playing is superb, pointed woodwinds playing with character, the whole experience completely engaging, a band clearly enjoying itself. The sound quality is top class (you wouldn't know it was the Festival Hall), plenty of immediacy and space. The second symphony under Gergiev didn't do much for me either. Neither is a 'bad' performance, but there are so much better ones out there. This time I compared with Giulini's recording with the Philharmonia on EMI. Again the recording is far more immediate and open. And it was made in 1956! The performance is compelling, the orchestra on absolutely top form, playful woodwind, strings really biting, especially in the final movement, the whole thing rhythmically tight. Terrific.

The second disc improves somewhat. I enjoyed the performance of the third ('Polish') symphony very much. Everyone sounds more engaged, and the sound is more open and has more presence. I liked Gergiev's touch at the end of the third movement, almost playful. This was recorded in the Victoria Hall, Geneva although I wasn't aware of that at first hearing. And I must applaud the LSO's piccolo player who is a joy throughout these performances.

Lovers of the first three Tchaikovsky symphonies, like me, will want to hear these recordings. But if you are starting out, either get the recordings with the LSO under Markevitch on Philips (not the Newton Classics reissue), or, my personal favourites, combining elegance, excitement, and occasionally a little humour:

1st Symphony: USSR S.O./ Svetlanov (Melodiya); Boston S.O./ Tilson-Thomas (DG); LPO/ Jurowski (LPO)

2nd Symphony: Philharmonia Orchestra/ Giulini (EMI)

3rd Symphony: USSR S.O/ Svetlanov (live in Edinburgh, on BBC Legends)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tchaikovsky Symphonies 1, 2 & 3 (LSO/Gerhgiev), 12 April 2014
By 
N. A. Shaw (Bradford, UK) - See all my reviews
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Very well recorded. Excellent interpretations with no trace of the modern tendency for conductors to take works of the romantic era
at disconcertingly up-tempo speeds, a practice which robs such works of their emotional appeal. Commendable performances on this CD.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Assured, musical readings that are well played and recorded - but there are no revelations, 15 Oct 2012
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This mid-price twofer gives collectors an alternative to the standard recommendations for the first three Tchaikovsky symphonies. On the basis of sound alone, Gergiev's new set surpasses the decades-old Dorati and Markevtich performances on Philips and Mercury. As it happens, the LSO plays on all three; here it is in top form, which wasn't necessarily true on the older releases. The first three symphonies are imperfect works, full of beauty but garrulous and displaying Tchaikovsky's struggle to master the long form of the symphony with its requirement for tight development of themes - at times, we are in the world of the ballet or orchestral suite instead. I'm always on the lookout for revelatory readings of these works, which are rare. Let me give my impression of Gergiev's interpretations.

Sym. 1 "Winter Dreams" - B+/A-

For years the standard recommendation for a stand-alone version has been the young Michael Tilson Thomas with the Boston Sym. on DG, a reading that is refined, polished, a bit lacking in energy, and decidedly balletic. I prefer Bernstein's more ebullient, vigorous version with the New York Phil. on Sony (to be found in the complete symphonies or a deleted Royal Edition CD). In the first movement Gergiev comes closer to MTT in balletic mood and intimacy. His overall timing of 12:00 makes the pacing veer towards the grand; this is a difficult movement to find a convincing tempo for, but I wish that Gergiev were half a minute faster. Even so, the playing is beautiful, the phrasing full of character, as you'd expect.

The second movement, marked "slow and singing" (Adagio cantabile), is also given a refined reading, reminding me that one of Gergiev's strengths is slow, soft music. The timing of 12:06 is basically identical to Bernstein's (as was the first movement), but Bernstein is more direct and less dream-like. The third movement is meant to be merry (the marking is 'scherzando giocoso'), and I'm afraid Gergiev doesn't get there. His reading is springy and yet too careful. He can be this way in Tchaikovsky's ballets, too, missing the sheer abandon and joy of certain sections. For me, the best movement in this performance is the finale, with its sad, moody beginning that gives way to the sunshine of a majestic Allegro; Gergiev finds the right balance of ceremony and exhilaration.

In all, this is as good a "Winter Dreams" as I've heard in recent years but not a revelation - maybe there never will be one in such a baggy, repetitive work. I'll stick with Bernstein. As for more recent rivals, the closest are Vladimir Jurowski with the London Phil. on the orchestra's house label and Yuri Temirkanov with the Royal Phil. on RCA, although that isn't to slight Abbado with the Chicago Sym. on Sony, who delivers one of the best performances in his complete cycle.

Sym. 2 "Little Russian" - B-/C+

This is the most folk-like of the early symphonies, several themes being direct adaptations of folk songs from the Ukraine (known under the Czar as "Little Russia"). My preference is for a robust, vigorous reading rather than a refined and polished one. Which puts me at odds with Gergiev's first movement, taken slowly and rather languidly. Similarly, the second movement, which is supposed to resemble a military march - it is marked 'marziale' - is inexplicably lazy-sounding. as much as I admire Gergiev, his recent tendency has been to over-refine his phrasing, as he does here. Unless the listener is captivated by the lovely playing of the LSO's woodwind soloists, it's likely that one's attention will wander.

The Scherzo is marked "very lively," and still Gergiev remains contained and restrained, polishing each phrase while losing a sense of exuberance overall. I'm holding him to a high standard; ion its own terms, this movement is played very well. The finale is structured along the same lines as the ending of Sym. 1, with a slow introduction and lively Allegro, although in this case the introduction is stately rather than moody and the fast part sprightly and scampering. Gergiev captures both sections very well, making this the most successful movement in a reading that frankly doesn't get off the ground until quite late, and even then there are droopy episodes as the finale progresses.

For a better choice there is Bernstein's excellent "Little Russian" with the NY Phil.on Sony and a classic Giulini on EMI that comes in rather dated sound, unfortunately. It's also worth going to the used market for an early Abbado reading (1968) on DG wit the Vienna Phil. that may be his best Tchaikovsky recording.

Sym. 3 "Polish" - B+/A-

For his third attempt at a symphony Tchaikovsky delivered an ambitious five-movement score that is more like a ballet suite than even the first two. Three of the movements come off as being in the same tempo, and few conductors are successful in making them feel different in pacing and mood. This is a pastel world of sleeping beauties and enchantment. To state my bias clearly, I find almost every reading of this work much of a muchness. Any conductor who can handle languorous melodies and delicate phrasing will achieve a nice result. Only Evgeny Svetlanov, in a blazing live reading on BBC Legends, finds the key to make the "Polish" wake up and come alive.

Gergiev falls safely in the top half of the best recordings I know. He finds some vigor in the long first movement, and he paces the second just differently enough so that we don't feel that it merely extends what has already been said. The ease and sweep of the orchestral playing are lovely. The third movement is a tranquil showcase for the LSO's solo woodwinds. The mercurial Scherzo could hardly be more delicate. Here Gergiev creates a complete ballet scene that could be inserted into the shadowy woodland as a prince searches for an elusive lover. Very much in keeping with the festive final section of Sleeping Beauty is the finale, which is meant to be "fiery." Svetlanov ignites it, and Gergiev comes close.

This Sym. 3 is recommendable for the solid interpretation but more so for the updated sound and fine playing. Only on those grounds does it marginally surpass Bernstein, Karajan, and Temirkanov, and even then these earlier rivals have first-rate playing.

To sum up, this set is a safe recommendation for anyone who wants all three early symphonies together, but as stand-alone performances, none but the "Polish" seems outstanding to me. I admit to being disappointed even as I grant that the overall musical quality is high.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Dead dull sound, alas, 5 Dec 2013
By 
David Gurr (Victoria, British Columbia Canada) - See all my reviews
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I am an enormous admirer of both Gergiev and the LSO heard in performance in a hall. Heard on these discs, terrible; muffled as though played through muslin. It's not the fault of playback electronics, my system is very good. To get some idea of everything that's missing, listen to the same team on the same label, with their Prokofiev Romeo and Juliette.Prokofiev: Romeo & Juliet (LSO / Gergiev)
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reference recordings, 1 April 2013
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The early Tchaikovsky symphonies get less attention and here are great live recordings. Was at the concerts at the Barbican where these were recorded. Gergiev has the right touch when it comes to Tchaikovsky, lifting the music to a higher level.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic!, 27 Jan 2013
Beautiful music, especially the second symphony ("Little Russian"). Very good recording. Great value for money. You should definitely buy it!
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5 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As good as in the hall, 1 Oct 2012
By 
Jack Saffery-Rowe (Maidstone, Kent) - See all my reviews
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I saw the 2 London concerts at which symphonies 1 and 2 were recorded, and I can really say that this is as good as being in the hall. Excellent quality sound, even on my iPod.

Bargain price for what really is a great collection of recordings. Shame the LSO didn't do the whole cycle as planned (the Mariinsky got in there first).

Definitely recommend.
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4 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tchaikovsky Symphonies 1-3, 22 Oct 2012
By 
Mr. D. K. Martin (Ashford, Kent, UK.) - See all my reviews
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First rate ("live") performances and rcd.The "slow" movements are well worth repeated listening.Excellent value from Amazon(two SACD CDs, playable on all machines).
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