on 7 March 2014
Readers who already know the genesis of these two works should skip my introduction but I feel it is important for those who do not, to explain a couple of points.
The story is somewhat complex. Tchaikovsky was trying to write a symphony after his 5th of 1888.
He sketched the 4 movements but, despite reworking the material, became dissatisfied with the project and abandoned it.
He then wrote his sixth (Patetique) which was his last.
Subsequently, he reworked the music of the sketched first movement of the former work and turned it into what has become known as his 3rd piano concerto, a work in one movement.
His friend and pupil, Taneyev, after the composer's death, constructed a further piano and orchestral two movements from the remaining sketches which are referred to as the andante and finale. His idea was to have a performing three movement work.
However it is clear that Tchaikovsky wished his single movement piano concerto to remain as he had left it in one movement.
Now we come to the symphony. It is misleading to call it number 7.
Working with the sketches that Tchaikovsky had left, the Russian musicologist Bogatyrev between 1951 and '57 constructed a four movement performing work. The first performance was in 1957.
So we have on this disc a four movement symphonic work, followed by the one movement concerto.
The symphony is interesting and, although most definitely not Tchaikovsky at his best,it is most interesting to hear what might have been!
It is enjoyable music and is extremely well played by the Gürzenich-Orchester Köln, conducted by Dmitrij Kitajenko.
Before writing this I compared an old Meloydia record of the work with the USSR Symphony orchestra, recorded in 1962. The symphony has also been recorded by the London Philharmonic under Järvi in 1993, and earlier by Ormandy with the Philadelphia.
All these performances are fine but I do feel that the new recording under review has a richer tone and is just a tad more persuasive, especially in the two final movements.
Now to the concerto, which is the more important work as it is from Tchaikovsky's hand in its entirety.
The pianist is Lilya Zilberstein, a Russian possessing a fine technique which is displayed in the longish and demanding cadenza of this work.
She is admirably accompanied by the orchestra and they do make a good case for this work being more often heard in the concert hall.
Geoffrey Tozer from 1992 on Chandos also plays superbly but the recent disc, to my ears, has the edge, benefited by an excellent recording.
This is a Hybrid SACD.
All in all there is a lot to enjoy on this disc and I recommend it to those who are unfamiliar with this music.
on 22 September 2014
This is an altogether satisfying recording. Being Tchaikovsky one of the greatest composers ever, I would recommend that all music lovers should buy this cd. Perhaps, it not Tchaikovsky at his very best, but it does not matter. On the other hand, the performances are excellent.