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Superb recording of Tchaikovsky 1 and 6.,
This review is from: Tchaikovsky: Symphonies 1 & 6 (Audio CD)
It is a complete mystery to me why the first three symphonies of Tchaikovsky are so neglected, both in the concert hall and on disc. They are all tuneful works, inventively orchestrated. And the first, which at some point gained the subtitle 'Winter Daydreams', has claim to be the most enchanting of the lot. I have had a soft spot for this work ever since first hearing it over 40 years ago on an HMV/Melodiya L.P.
Jurowski's account with the L.P.O. is simply outstanding. It was recorded live at a concert in the Royal Festival Hall, but more of that later. The orchestra is on top form, all sections, with Tchaikovsky's glorious woodwind melodies characterfully played. But then so are the horn parts, and it's clear that the orchestra throughout are galvanised by Jurowski. Wonderful pointing of the jaunty folk-tune in the finale. I was completely won over by this performance, and it joins the account by the U.S.S.R. State Symphony Orchestra under Svetlanov (Melodiya) as my joint favourite. Svetlanov is a mite brisker, but Jurowski's recording is far superior.
With the Sixth Symphony, we are, of course, on hallowed turf. There are literally dozens of recordings, and a surprising number of really excellent ones. I think Jurowski holds his own here, although I wasn't so immediately bowled over as with the performance of the First. The first movement has a sense of controlled hysteria, and I think that's the best description of Jurowski's approach. The second movement is rightly a little destabilising. It seems to want to be a waltz, but it isn't one. The third movement has always seemed out of place to me. An orchestral showpiece here, in the middle of Tchaikovsky's most sombre symphony? Towards the end of this performance of the third movement, a sinister note enters; forced jollity? I was reflecting on this before reading the excellent sleeve notes by Stephen Johnson, who makes a similar point. The final movement is well done, with the tam-tam stroke more clearly audible than in many recordings. There is a feeling of real Russian melancholy in the black final notes.
The recording quality is astonishing. If you were listening 'blind', I defy you to identify this as the Royal Festival Hall. There is warmth, space, even a real feeling of depth to the sound, together with the usual wide dynamic and fequency range we have come to expect today. The recording team (Andrew Walton, producer; Andrew Lang, engineer) have also managed to eliminate audience sounds without compromising the natural 'concert-hall' sound. Definitely the finest recording, by far, I have heard of the RFH. Audience applause aplenty is included at the end of the first symphony, but, rightly, not at the conclusion of the Pathetique.
All round, a terrific pair of discs. The first symphony has already been back in the CD player a couple of times, always a good sign. The sixth will be studied at more depth later. I look forward to more Tchaikovsky from this team in their South Bank home.
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Initial post: 30 Apr 2010 17:12:19 BDT
Last edited by the author on 30 Apr 2010 17:12:49 BDT
Friedrich Wilhelm says:
The subtitle for the first symphony, 'Winter Daydreams', as well as the subtitles for the first two movements, were actually given by Tchaikovsky himself. Just a point of interest.
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